Scotland’s men put in an outstanding performance to take bronze at the European Team Championships in Warsaw, Poland, and end a 17 year wait for a medal.
Not since 1999 had a Scottish team stood on the podium at these championships and, after four 4th place finishes in as many years, Glasgow 2014 competitors Alan Clyne, Greg Lobban and Kevin Moran, along with Dougie Kempsell, Rory Stewart and Chris Leiper, were determined to make amends. The team got off to a great start with strong early performances placing them second in their qualifying group, behind defending champions France, and setting up a semi-final clash with England.
Though England, eventual winners of the championship, proved too strong, Scotland went down fighting, with both Alan and Greg involved in extremely tight matches. The loss catapulted the team into an all too familiar situation – a 3rd/4th play-off against Germany, the team that had beaten them to the bronze medal in each of the last four outings.
This time there was to be a different outcome, though it went right to the wire. Tied at one apiece after a win for Dougie and a loss for Alan, the pressure was on Kevin and Greg to seal victory. With a win for Kevin, the tie came down to the fourth game in Greg’s match with Raphael Kandra but, as the news of Kevin’s win reached Greg, the match looked in jeopardy with Greg two games to one and 9-4 behind.
“It was such a tense finish to the tie and there was so much pressure,” said Greg. “Win that game and we win a medal, or lose it and go home heartbroken for a fifth year in a row. There is always heightened pressure when you’re competing for a team, especially as our team are really close mates, and we are desperate to win for each other.”
In a stunning display of mental strength, he found something extra and took seven points in a row to win the game, 11-9. As he took the final point, and with it the bronze medal for the team, the Scottish side of the stand, filled with players and support staff, leapt in the air in celebration.
“It was a great feeling for the whole team,” said Greg. “To win the medal after four years of losing to the Germans in the 3/4th play-off, Scotland’s first medal in the European Championships since 1999, I feel really proud to be part of that. I’m already looking forward to next year, where I believe we can go at least one better!”