Swimming: Craig McNally storms back for victory

Craig McNally has finally put his injury troubles behind him. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
Craig McNally has finally put his injury troubles behind him. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
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Warrender’s Craig McNally has suffered through illness over the past year but, far from feeling sorry for himself, he is already looking forward to reaching a peak at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio.

And he showed all his fighting qualities last night when he came back on the final touch to beat Bath’s Jonathan Carlisle and win the 200m backstroke at the Scottish National Championships at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre in Glasgow.

The 23-year-old was a medal hopeful in the run up to last year’s Commonwealth Games at Tollcross, but a mystery virus hit him hard. Then, at this year’s World Championship trials, he was struck down by gastroenteritis.

Added to his disappointment of missing the London Olympics in 2012 by fractions of a second and it seems that Lady Luck is not on his side.

“I was quite disappointed not to make the Worlds this year,” said the Edinburgh swimmer who made his Team GB at the 2013 version in Barcelona. “But I am getting used to bouncing back. That’s what swimming is all about.”

Carlisle led all three turns in the final and was still ahead with metres to go. But McNally got it on the final stretch, winning in 2:0171 to the Englishman’s 2:01.89.

Mark Tully (Edinburgh University) completed a great breaststroke double, holding off the 200m champion Michael Jamieson to add the 100m to his Thursday win in the 50m.

It was something of a swan song for the 23-year-old. “I’m just about to start a full-time job as an apprentice electrician so I’ll be taking a big break from swimming,” he explained. “I was at college but have been a full-time swimmer for the past couple of years.”

But he hopes this won’t mark the end of his career. “I swam at last year’s Commonwealth Games and I’d love to make the team again. The plan is to keep things ticking over and then make the big comeback at the trials for 2018,” he added.

It was a good finale. Tully’s winning time of 1:01.64 was 0.24secs ahead of Jamieson, who had won the 200m the previous evening.

“I’ve been stuck on 62secs for so long it’s a massive relief to finally break the barrier,” Tully said. “It’s my personal best by half a second.”

Jamieson was sanguine about the defeat. At one time, the Olympic 200m silver medallist tried to double up at major events. “But the difference between the 100m and 200m is becoming more specific and you can’t really do both,” he suggested. “I’m definitely concentrating on the longer distance.”