OF ALL the world and Olympic champions who have added to their collection of gold at the Commonwealth Games, few can have smiled as broadly, nor wept as openly, as Graeme Randall did from the top of the podium in Manchester.
Randall had claimed the world 81kg judo title in Birmingham three years prior to his Commonwealth gold, but what he accomplished after making a shorter journey down the M6 in 2002 felt every bit as rewarding.
His moment of triumph, in what turned out to be his last bout, produced one of the great Scottish sporting images. Locked in a tense battle with English rival Thomas Cousins, both fighters were one penalty away from being disqualified when Randall launched an attack that had Cousins scurrying off the mat.
That meant Cousins would have to launch a counter-attack to avoid disqualification from the final, and the Tranent man saw it coming and performed a textbook foot sweep to bring his opponent down. Cue an impulsive and euphoric celebration: Randall flung himself on his knees and opened his robe to reveal his chest, roaring at the crowd in the G-Mex Arena before letting the tears flow, with Cousins slumped beside him.
“It was difficult,” Randall reflected in a poignant Glasgow 2014 promotional interview that is available on YouTube. “I was coming back from quite a severe injury. It was touch and go right until the last minute whether I would compete.
“I was very quiet beforehand, and that was unusual for me. I think it was because I knew the stakes were very high. Thomas and I knew each other very well and I was never going to let my guard down against him because he was the home favourite. As far as he was concerned, he was coming home with the gold medal.
“For me, winning that gold medal, because of all that was attached to the journey, I would put it on a par with winning the world championships.”