As Team GB landed back in the UK aboard specially chartered flight BA2016, the 47-strong Scottish contingent had much to celebrate following a record performance on many levels.
In a British team that surpassed all expectations, taking second place in the medal table ahead of China and becoming the first team in history to better the medal count at a home Games, the Scottish medal tally of 13 also equalled the best ever haul at an Olympics, set at London 2012.
There were four stand out gold medals for Scots in Rio, with two Scots successfully defendingtitles from 2012. Andy Murray became the first person ever to retain an Olympic tennis singles title following an epic duel of a final with Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina whilst there was also repeat gold for Heather Stanning with Helen Glover in the coxless pair, the duo extending their five year unbeaten streak for victory.
The other golds came from two rising stars of the velodrome. Glasgow 2014 bronze medallist KatieArchibald, with teammates Joanna Rowsell, Elinor Barker and Laura Trott, topped the podium, lowering the World and Olympic record in each round of the Team Pursuit. Callum Skinner then stepped into the large shoes of the legendary Sir Chris Hoy to anchor the Team Sprint home in an Olympic record ahead of New Zealand. Skinner was not done there, adding silver in the individual sprint behind GB team mate, Rio room-mate and defending champion Jason Kenny.
At her fifth Games, and having taken a two year break from the sport following gold at London 2012, Katherine Grainger became Britain’s most decorated female Olympian as she took her fifth consecutive medal with silver in the Double Sculls with Vicky Thornley. The elation evident as she received the medal showed exactly what it meant to respond to this most recent challenge.
Also on the water there was silver for Polly Swann and Karen Bennett with their team mates in the rowing eight.
As one Olympic career peaks, another begins and, at just 19 years old, Duncan Scott was the Scottish star of the pool with two silver medals in relays and an individual final place in the 100m Freestyle. In the latter event he set a British record in his heat and equalled it in the final for 5th place, only 0.16 seconds off bronze.
The first of those relay medals, in the 4x200m Freestyle Relay, was an all Scottish affair in the heats as Scott, Stephen Milne, Dan Wallace and Robbie Renwick took Team GB comfortably into the final. Renwick was the one to miss out on the final, as he stepped aside for reigning World individual champion James Guy. Guy brought the team home to silver behind the USA in a new British record with all five men getting a medal for their efforts in the heat and final. Scott claimed his second silver in the 4x100m medley relay and was photographed being congratulated by the great Michael Phelps, who won his 23rd and final Olympic gold swimming in his last race.
In the canoe slalom, David Florence claimed an impressive third successive Olympic silver, his second in the C2 with Richard Hounslow as they repeated their finish from London 2012.
For Mark Bennett and Mark Robertson it was also a fantastic silver with the Rugby 7s team. The squad, who had only been brought together 6 weeks prior to the Games, were denied a fairy tale ending by Fiji who created one of their own, winning their nation’s first ever gold.
Sally Conway, Commonwealth bronze medallist in Glasgow two years ago, was narrowly beaten in her semi-final and went on to take bronze once again. She becomes the first Scottish judoka in history to claim an Olympic medal. Among the scalps she took on route to the podium was current World Champion Gévrise Émane of France.
Bronze for Eilidh Doyle as part of the 4x400m relay was a hugely significant event in Scottish athletics history as the first Olympic track and field medal for a Scot in 28 years. It was also the medal that equalled the best ever Scottish tally and, as Team GB’s 66th medal of Rio 2016, took them past London’s record total of 65.
There were also a host of strong performances outside the medals with many athletes making finals or setting national records, including Hannah Miley coming within centimetres of bronze on the opening day in the pool. There were Scottish records and 6th places for both Andrew Butchart and Lynsey Sharp on the track and a top ten finish in the marathon for Callum Hawkins in just his third outing over the distance.
The final medal tally for the Scots on Team GB stands at four gold, seven silver and two bronze.
Reflecting on an incredible 16 days of sport, Paul Bush, Chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland congratulated all the Scottish athletes, along with all their colleagues on Team GB.
“Irrespective of their final positions, all the athletes made us proud. Their families and all those providing support to them have our gratitude for their efforts. Our attention now turns back to Rio from 7-18 September as the nation’s Paralympians go for glory. We wish them the best of luck and look forward to celebrating a fantastic year of sport with Scottish Olympians and Paralympians at the Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards on 28 September. From then, it’s onwards to the Gold Coast in 2018.”