SCOTLAND’S Callum Hawkins collapsed on the verge of a men’s marathon gold medal in horribly distressing scenes during the last day of action at the Commonwealth Games.
The 25-year-old from Paisely was 41 seconds ahead with a mile-and-a-half to go in the blazing 27C heat in the Gold Coast before he suddenly appeared delirious and began weaving around the road.
He stumbled to the ground, bravely tried to continue before finally collapsing on a bridge at the 24.85-mile mark and BBC commentators Steve Cram and Paula Radcliffe were sickened by the slowness of the medical response. There was an agonising spell of minutes when the Scot was writhing by the side of the road with onlookers seemingly oblivious to the athlete’s plight. At one point a female spectator, astonishingly, took a picture of the clearly struggling Hawkins, who was lying by the side of the road, with her mobile phone.
Athletics legend and now respected commentator Cram said: “He’s hit his head on the barrier. I’m sorry if you’re watching this at home, it’s really distressing. He’s going to hurt himself and there’s nobody anywhere near.
“We should have some more medical attention. This is a guy in real distress and someone needs to recognise it for his health at this point.
“Where on earth is the help? You cannot just wait at the finish line. They’ve got radios.
“And finally somebody arrives. I think it’s disgraceful.”
It was more than 10 minutes before an ambulance arrived at the scene to help the stricken athlete, with Scotland middle distance star Lynsey Sharp seen in attendance to check on the health of her team-mate.
The BBC commentators reported that Hawkins appeared to be conscious and conversing as he was taken into the ambulance.
A Team Scotland statement read: “Callum has been taken to hospital for medical review following his collapse in the marathon as is standard procedure.
“He is being supported by Team Scotland medical staff and there are no major concerns at this stage.”
There were reports that the clearly delirious Hawkins refused medical assistance initially for fear of being disqualified, but the incident and woefully delayed response has put intense focus on the Games organisers.
Gold Coast organising committee chief executive Mark Peters, asked about the delay at a press conference, said: “We need to check the facts out. You can’t have medical people on every kilometre of the road.
“They are professionally positioned as they are for our Gold Coast marathon when we have 30,000 people running. Obviously the health of the athlete is absolute prime.
“Sometimes medical people arrive and athletes have to make a decision whether they want to go on or not and I understand that was part of the discussion.
“There is no reason there would be deliberate delays and our thoughts are with the athlete. Unfortunately athletes do run themselves to exhaustion and there is rarely a marathon where someone isn’t collapsing.”
British Athletics tweeted: “Callum Hawkins is conscious following his fall and has been taken away in an ambulance. We all wish Callum a speedy recovery.”
Hawkins has had a meteoric rise in athletics’ most gruelling event since running his first full marathon only three years ago in Frankfurt. His eighth-place finish in the 2016 London Marathon qualified him for the Great Britain Olympic team and he finished a superb ninth in Rio.
In January last year he became the first British athlete to beat Mo Farah in seven years when he finished second to the great man’s seventh at the Great Edinburgh Interntional Cross Country event and later in the year he equalled the best British performance in a men’s world championship marathon when he placed fourth in London.
That made Hawkins one of Scotland’s top medal hopes for these Games and he had been on course to win the country’s first Commonwealth marathon gold since Jim Alder in Kingston in 1966.
After Hawkins went down in today’s race, Australia’s Mike Shelley passed to take the gold, with Scotland’s Robbie Simpson coming through for bronze behind Uganda’s Munyo Solomon Mutai in silver.
Simpson, who became Scotland’s first marathon medallist since Alder’s bronze in Edinburgh in 1970, said: “That was the toughest marathon I’ve ever run. I’ve heard Callum is okay and talking. Someone had said ‘Scotland are leading’ and later I heard someone say the leader had a fallen and I thought ‘oh I hope that’s not Callum’. When I saw him lying on the road there was part of me that wanted to stop but I had to keep going to get the bronze. I hope he’s okay.”
Earlier, Scotland’s Sammi Kinghorn finished a fine fourth in the women’s T54 marathon. The 22-year-old double world champion wheelchair racer from the Borders is a sprint specialist, with 100m and 200m her favoured distances. With only the 1,500m and marathon on offer for the Commonwealth Games the Scot gamely took on the longer distances.
She was part of the chasing medal group for much of the race but was detatched and edged off the podium as Australia’s Madison de Rozario took gold. England’s Jade Jones took bronze.
Helalia Johannes of Namibian won the women’s marathon.
Scotland’s basketballers lost their bronze medal match 79-69 to New Zealand and the men’s squash doubles pairing of Alan Clyne and Greg Lobban lost their bronze match 2-0 to English pair James Declan and James Willstrop.
It means Scotland finish their best ever overseas Games with 44 medals - nine gold, 13 silver and 22 bronze.