With medals and titles on the World and European stage, May was a stand-out month for Scottish athletes across a huge range of sports. Here are just some of the highlights:
Athletics: Laura Muir opened her outdoor track season with a convincing win at the Stockholm Diamond League meeting on 30 May. Having had to settle for bronze on the road at the Westminster Mile four days previously, she was back to winning ways over 1500m in Swedish capital, taking victory in 4.05.37. Her young training partner Jemma Reekie made a strong bid for second in the race, eventually finishing fourth after strong finishes from multiple African Championships medallist Malika Akkaoui and Sweden’s Yolanda Ngarambe.
There was also a strong performance from Eilish McColgan in the 5000m as she took 7th ahead of Great Britain team mate Melissa Courtney in a close race. The race was won in a world leading time of 14.50.82 by Kenya’s Agnes Jebet Tirop, World Championship bronze medallist over 10,000m two years ago. Finishing less than two seconds back, McColgan took some major scalps including that of reigning World Champion and Olympic silver medallist Helen Obiri. Glasgow 2014 silver medallist Lynsey Sharp was also in action in Stockholm, taking 7th place in the 800m.
Boxing: Scotland has a new World Champion as Josh Taylor lifted the IBF Super Lightweight title with a stunning unanimous win over Ivan Baranchyk in Glasgow. The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist knocked down the previously undefeated Belarusian twice in the sixth round and controlled the rest of the contest for a well deserved win. The bout also doubled as the World Boxing Super Series semi-final and Josh will face American Regis Prograis in the final later this year.
At the European Junior Championships in Galatai, Romania, there was a brilliant bronze medal performance from 15 year old Isa Akram, coached at Glasgow’s Rob Roy Boxing Club. He beat Denmark’s reigning European Junior bronze medallist Elias Idrissi and top Romanian junior Marco Antonio Manea on route to the Light Bantamweight semi-finals where he lost out in a close split decision to Bulgaria’s Krasimir Dzhurov.
Scotland also had a highly successful GB Three Nations Championships at both senior and youth levels. At senior level Vicky Glover scored a fantastic victory in the Women’s Featherweight division, beating England’s Raven Chapman by split decision in the final. There were silver medals too for Gold Coast 2018 representatives Robbie McKechnie and Stephen Newns, as well as for 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games competitor John Casey. Our young boxers put on a brilliant display at the Youth and Junior event with 25 medals including five gold courtesy of Euan Caldwell, Destany Robertson, Ged McTaggart, Shazman Parnez and Amit Kaur.
Diving: Grace Reid partnered Tom Daley to a stunning Diving World Series gold in the 3m Mixed Synchro in London, the pair clinching the title a sensational final dive. Their front three-and-a-half somersault pike earned them 77.19 points which was enough to hold off Australian duo Domonic Bedggood and Maddison Keeney who finished just 0.75 points behind. Victory came on the back of silver at the previous meeting in Montreal and three further bronze medals in the 2019 series. In the individual 3m Springboard Grace set a new British record of 344.25 to finish 4th.
Grace was also in action at he British Diving Championships in Edinburgh, taking 3m Springboard and Women’s 3m Synchro silver, but it was Edinburgh’s James Heatly who stole the show, taking double gold with wins in both Men’s 1m and 3m Springboard events. Reid and Heatly’s Gold Coast 2018 team mates Lucas Thomson and Gemma McArthur both performed well with Thomson taking silver in the Men’s 10m Synchro and 5th in the individual event while McArthur was 4th in the Women’s 10m Platform.
Lawn Bowls: Scotland returned an incredible seven medals from eight disciplines at the Atlantic Rim Championships in …, while also securing qualification in all disciplines for the upcoming World Championships. The Men’s Team also won the overall Atlantic Championships Points Trophy whilst the Woman’s Squad finished in a very strong 3rd position in the overall standings.
Alex Marshall was in brilliant form throughout the Championships and in particular during the Men’s Fours Final against Jersey when, 13-7 down in the penultimate end, he moved the jack for a six with his final bowl to level scores going into a final end. The unchanged line-up from the gold medal winning team at Gold Coast 2018, Ronnie Duncan, Derek Oliver, Paul Foster and Marshall went on to take the final end and with it the gold medal.
There were silver medals for Darren Burnett in the Men’s Singles, Foster and Marshall in the Men’s Pairs, as well as both Men’s and Women’s Triples teams. Caroline Brown in the Women’s Singles and the Women’s Fours team of Hannah Smith, Stacey McDougall, Megan Gratham and Claire Johnston completed the medal tally with bronze medals.
Shooting: Seonaid McIntosh was in fine form at the ISSF World Cup in Munich, winning silver in the Women’s 50m 3 Positions competition, the first British medal in this event since 1989. After a new British and Scottish record of 1177 in the Elimination round, a steady 1176 in Qualification saw her safely through to the final.
Sharp shooting in the Kneeling and Prone stages, saw Seonaid take a slender one point advantage over Russia’s Yulia Zykova into the final Standing section. Seonaid started strong and clung to her lead – going into the last shot with a 0.9 gap to Zykova in second. But a fantastic final shot from the Russian saw Seonaid knocked off the top spot and having to settle for silver, only 0.2 behind.
Fellow Gold Coast 2018 competitors Aedan Evans and Jess Liddon were also in action representing Great Britain in Munich, with Aedan making his senior World Cup debut in the Men’s 10m Air Pistol. Jess put in a strong performance in the Precision discipline of the Women’s 25m Pistol, before following up with a score of 574 in the Rapid Fire event the next day, just two points off her own Scottish record set in February.
Squash: The European Team Championships were a happy hunting ground for Scotland’s squash players as the men’s team beat top seeds and defending champions France to claim a podium place and the women scored a huge upset to finish 4th, their best placing since 2005. Scotland excelled, over four intense days of action at the Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham, with several notable wins over higher ranked opposition.
Greg Lobban’s superb five game win over world number 16 Gregoire Marche and Alan Clyne’s devastatingly clinical dispatch of Lucas Serme (WR41) in three, paved the way to victory over France in the bronze medal match.
22 year old Rory Stewart, ranked 153 in the world, was instrumental in the team’s success, pulling off sensational victories over two French players ranked inside the world top 100. He took a five game thriller against Baptiste Masotti (WR61) in the group stages and followed up with a win over Victor Crouin (WR73) in the bronze medal match. Scotland debutant Angus Gillams gave the men’s squad added depth and pulled off an important five game win over Germany’s Yannik Omlor in the opening group match to set the team up for a shot at the medals.
While the men replicated their medal success of 2016, it was the women who sprung the biggest surprise on their opposition. Promoted into the top division just last year and bottom ranked of the eight teams, they played superbly to qualify out of their group and make the semi-finals for the first time in 14 years.
The team were led by Scottish No. 1 Lisa Aitken, who played great squash against opposition ranked inside the top 10 in the world and scored a significant victory over world number 32 Milou van der Heijden in Scotland’s vital group-stage win over the Netherlands.
The rest of the young squad stepped up to the plate with teenager Georgia Adderley stunning world number 46 Melissa Alves in the semi-finals and also scoring a win over Holland’s Tessa ter Sluis (WR75) in the group stages, while Alison Thomson’s victory over Welsh player Elin Harlow proved significant in the push for the semi-finals.
Triathlon: There was a phenomenal performance from Beth Potter at the ETU European Triathlon Championships as she took gold in the Elite Women’s race, almost a full minute clear of Sandra Dodet of France and Claire Michel of Belgium. Beth was sitting in 9th after the swim and picked up a couple of places to move into 7th coming off the bike. Part of a leading group of 18 that created a substantial gap over the chasing pack, the race was going to be won on the run and Beth gradually moved into the lead and away from second place. She recorded the fastest run of the day to take European gold and her first senior international Triathlon title. Erin Wallace was also in good form in the elite junior race, finishing 14 seconds away from a podium place in 5th.