Team Scotland’s Athletics squad opened their Bahamas 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games account in truly emphatic style as Erin Wallace timed her finish to perfection to win 1500m gold in the Thomas Robinson National Stadium.
On a night where competition was delayed nearly an hour due to thunder and lightning, Erin kept her cool to deliver an astute tactical performance in an evenly matched race. Staying back in the pack as athletes jostled for position early on, Erin covered all the breaks and, as the bell sounded for the final lap, moved away from the rest of the field at the back of a group of four battling it out for the medals.
The stands were packed with Team Scotland’s travelling support and they roared Erin home to victory as she sprinted away in the final stages to win in a time of 4 minutes 16.61, twelve hundredths ahead of Kenya’s Viola Chemutai in second.
“When I crossed the line first, I just couldn’t believe it,” said Erin, who won bronze at last year’s European Youth Championships in Georgia. “I was so shocked because after 800m the leaders were so far ahead and I thought I would never catch them, but with 300m to go I started to think I could probably do it. I never expected to win. I knew everyone’s times were really close and I was expecting a fast race and it was just going to be a question of who could hold on the longest.”
Flower of Scotland rang out round the stadium as Erin received Team Scotland’s fourth gold of the Games and a first Youth Games gold medal for Athletics since the 2011 Isle of Man Games where Tom Holligan took victory in the 200m.
Erin becomes the second Scottish women to win Youth Games gold in the 1500m, following in the footsteps of Morag McLarty who won in Bendigo in 2004.
“Standing on the top step of the podium and hearing everyone singing Flower of Scotland was just so special,” said Erin. “To have that support in the stadium was amazing and I’m looking forward to coming back tomorrow for the 800m.”
While Erin’s gold was the Scottish highlight of the evening, sprinters Maddy Silcock and Adam Clayton gave a good account of themselves in the Women’s and Men’s 100m respectively.
First competitor of the night for Team Scotland, Maddy was behind her blocks and waiting for the command to take her marks, when the competition was suddenly suspended due to the passing thunder storm. She remained composed and returned an hour later to post a time of 12.85 seconds and move comfortably into the semi-finals.
Adam Clayton was impressive in the Men’s event, clocking 10.93 seconds to win his heat to take his place in the semis, but unfortunately neither sprinter could progress on to the finals in loaded fields.
Adam Scott put himself in contention early in the Men’s 1500m, going with the leading group over the opening laps. Ultimately the early pace in hot, humid conditions began to take its toll and he faded to 9th place in a time of 4 minutes 01.60 in a race won by John Waweru of Kenya.
Olivia Varielle, daughter of former Kilmarnock footballer Jerome, was sixth in her 400m heat in a time of 57.22, missing out on a place in the final.
The Athletics action continues tomorrow with Erin Wallace back in action in the 800m, Calum Henderson and Alessandro Schenini in the long jump final, Bethany McAndrew in the 100m Hurdles and sprinters Lauren Greig and Fraser Angus in the heats of the 200m.
There is livestream coverage of selected Youth Games events, including tomorrow’s swimming finals, available to all non-Caribbean countries on www.oz.com/cyg2017
Broadcasts include Swimming, Athletics, Beach Volleyball, Beach Soccer and Boxing, with the full schedule available at: https://www.oz.com/cyg2017/schedule