With a finishing effort that was timed to absolute perfection, Robbie Renwick won Team Scotland’s first gold medal of the XIX Commonwealth Games in Delhi on Tuesday evening.
In his second event, the men’s 200m freestyle, Renwick began the race hoping to make up for his disappointment of the previous evening, when he finished sixth in the 400m freestyle. And he did – in spectacular and nail-biting fashion, coming from behind to touch the wall just two-hundredths of a second before Kenrick Monk of Australia.
As his fellow Scot David Carry raced into an early lead – just as he had done on his way to a bronze medal in the 400m on Monday – Renwick bided his time. He was languishing in 7th at quarter-distance, up to sixth at half-distance and still back in fifth with one length of the pool remaining.
It was a big ask for him to transform fifth into gold, yet Renwick powered over the final fifty metres to close the gap and claim victory, with his celebrations leaving no one in any doubt as to what this success meant to the Glasgow-based swimmer.
“It feels fantastic to be Scotland’s first gold medallist of the Games,” said Renwick. “It’s such a proud moment for me. We’re going to be hosting the Games in four years’ time in Glasgow, and I just know it’s going to be great. Scotland’s such a proud nation and I’m really happy to do that for Scotland.
“I’m pleased that I bounced back after yesterday’s disappointing performance in the 400,” Renwick continued. “I knew I was a 200 swimmer rather than a 400 swimmer, but to win the gold medal and be Commonwealth champion is just fantastic. I know I’ve got a lot more in me as well.”
Asked to explain his late charge, after he had faded in the final stages of the previous night’s final, Renwick said: “I had to learn from my mistakes yesterday, and I timed it perfectly. That’s the way I swim, you know. I love racing and that’s what I do.
“I definitely knew I was down during the race,” he continued, “but I just stayed calm and hoped for the best. That’s what all my training’s geared towards.
“I’m Commonwealth champion now,” Renwick added, “and I want to enjoy the moment.”
And enjoy it he certainly did, receiving a hero’s welcome from the large Scottish contingent in the stands at the Aquatics Complex.
Carry, meanwhile, raced courageously, but it was his turn to fade in the closing stages as he came home eighth.
“I thought I had a lot more in the tank than I actually did there,” said Carry. “I’m really, really disappointed with that, but I’m not going to dwell on it because we’ve got the relay tomorrow. And with Robbie swimming the way he is, and the way I swam last night, I think we can do something pretty special.”
Team Scotland will have two finalists in Wednesday’s men’s 100m breaststroke, with Kris Gilchrist and Michael Jamieson both qualifying from Tuesday’s semi-finals. It was a race, said Gilchrist, that was “definitely a step in the right direction for me.
“I didn’t feel fantastic in the morning but I felt sharper tonight,” Gilchrist continued. “If I can get that extra bit tomorrow I’ll be fine, and I’ll be happy if I can drop another half-second.”
Jamieson, though, was ecstatic. “That’s over half a second off my PB there,” he said. “I’m a bit speechless, to be honest. I’m not used to being so close to the top of the rankings in the 100m.
“The 200’s definitely my stronger event, but I think all the work I’ve put in on my front end speed has helped me. Now I’ll just rest up tonight, and prepare for the final tomorrow. I’d love to take another tenth or so off my time, but I’m just really enjoying being here and I think that’s coming out in my swims.”
Kathryn Johnstone was also happy to have made the final of the 50m breaststroke, admitting it had been “really exciting.” She was content with seventh. “I hadn’t been expecting to make the final,” she said.
“But to move up a place [from qualifying] to seventh is good, and I swam faster than I did in the semi. I’ve never raced against such big names before, but I enjoyed it. I’ve got the 100m [breaststroke] on Thursday, so hopefully I can do a PB in that – my goal there is to make the semi-finals.”