Glasgow 2014: Murdoch stars in Scotland gold rush
IT WAS a golden start to the Games to exceed the expectations of even the most optimistic member of Team Scotland. In a few short hours yesterday evening, home competitors won four gold – two in the pool and two in the judo competition – while further success came in the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.
By the end of the night, Scotland had four gold medals, three silver and three bronze in the Commonwealth Games medal table.
Hannah Miley and Ross Murdoch each won their events on a night of high drama at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre, with Murdoch beating home favourite Michael Jamieson into second place. The other two golds were won by the Renicks sisters, Louise and Kimberley. Aileen McGlynn took silver on the track in the paracycling tandem race, there was a silver for judoka Stephanie Inglis, and three of her team-mates took bronze – Connie Ramsay, John Buchanan and James Millar.
Miley was in magnificent form in the 400m individual medley, fighting off a fierce challenge from England’s Aimee Willmott to win in her fastest time for several years. Willmott was more than two seconds inside world-record pace at one stage, but Miley killed off her challenge over the penultimate 50m – roaring into the lead, and being roared on, too, by an ecstatic crowd, scores of her team-mates among them. There was a hint of tiredness from the leader on the final 25m - but more than a hint from Willmott, who could not eat into her rival’s lead.
While there was unadulterated joy for Murdoch after victory in the 200m breaststroke, the silver medal was a bittersweet reward for Jamieson. The home favourite, the poster boy of the Games, had said after the morning heats that he had been feeling the pressure a bit but thought he had got the nerves out of his system. That certainly seemed to be the way over the first half of the final as he took the lead and appeared to be in control, but Murdoch swallowed up his lead on the final turn, and, by halfway down the final length, was metres ahead with no risk of being caught.
As Murdoch wept tears of happiness when the national anthem was played – something Miley, too, had done hours earlier – Jamieson looked drained. Perhaps only triple Olympic silver medallist Katherine Grainger – who eventually won rowing gold at London 2012 – could truly comprehend how disappointed her fellow-Scot was with second prize.
Commenting last night on an incredibly successful opening day for Team Scotland, Stewart Harris, the chief executive of sportscotland, said: “Congratulations to all Team Scotland athletes who gave their all for their country today, and what an outstanding achievement it is to win 10 medals on the opening day. Four gold, three silver, and four bronze medals has exceeded all expectations. Spurred on by an incredible home crowd, Team Scotland is on track to deliver its best ever medal haul at a Commonwealth Games.
“This is a historic and proud day for Team Scotland.”