Steph Twell and Team Scotland’s women’s 4x400m relay squad produced strong performances on the final night of the athletics programme at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
Twell followed her bronze medal in the 1500m with a brave run to finish fourth in the 5000m. In a tactical race dominated by the three Kenyans in the field, who managed a clean sweep of the medals, Freya Murray took up the early pace, with Twell emerging to challenge until the Kenyans began to step on the gas in the final three laps.
“In the 1500m I’m aware of the tactics but you can see how tactical the 5000m can be as well,” said Twell. “It’s not that it didn’t suit me, it’s just the way the race was. The three Kenyans were the strong favourites going into it. I was going in ranked fourth, so I’m super happy to come away from the championships with a bronze from the 1500m. That’s a testament to how I’m developing in 1500m, and I’ve still got a long time to develop at the 5000m.
“Doing the 5000m was always a bonus,” she continued. “You can’t normally do that at major championships. So I’m happy to come here and get some tactical experience. I definitely think the Kenyans had tactics as a team; you could see them helping each other out. I tried to mix it in there but it wound up and wound up in the last four laps.
“I was running fast,” she added. “They were just running faster. But to come away with a medal, I couldn’t really be happier.”
Later, the women’s 4x400m team, with Lee McConnell joining Gemma Nicol, Eilidh Child and Kathryn Evans for the final, ran a Scottish record on their way to sixth behind the surprising winners, India, whose success produced a cacophony of noise inside the stadium.
“I went out quite hard, and tied up a bit at the end,” said Nicol, “but I still felt quite strong and we got an alright changeover – I’ve seen better.”
Child took responsibility for a first changeover that perhaps wasn’t as slick as it could have been, but for which she more than made up with a rapid leg that moved the Scots briefly up to second. “I mucked up the changeover a bit by going off too early,” said Child, the 400m hurdles silver medallist. “But I felt strong coming in. It was an amazing experience – I really enjoyed it.”
Evans echoed this. “The noise was crazy, it was immense, and I really enjoyed it. As long as Lee doesn’t hang up her spikes just yet, I think there’s another couple of seconds’ [improvement] there.”
McConnell, who last ran in a Scottish 4x400m team eight years ago at the Commonwealth Games, enjoyed breaking the national record, with their 3.30.91 in Delhi shaving 0.59 seconds from the mark set on that occasion in Manchester.
“It was brilliant running with these girls,” said McConnell. “It’s been eight years since I last ran in a Scottish team, but I think in 2014 they’ll be looking for a substitute for me – or maybe I’ll just run the 4×400.”
Evans added: “Now we’ve got a 4×400 team in the Commonwealth Games we should keep it there. And maybe in Glasgow we can win a medal, like the Indians have done here. The crowd really helps you, so I’m looking forward to Glasgow.”
Alastair Hay was another finalist on the final night of competition, running the men’s 1500m. Having found himself crowded out in his heat, in which he placed seventh, Hay was determined not to make the same mistake again, going out fast and mixing it with the leaders for much of the race. In a close race the 25-year old was outpaced on the final straight, coming in 12th.
“It was good to get to the final and I felt quite good the first couple of laps,” said Hay. “I allowed myself to get jostled coming into the penultimate lap, but that was the only thing I got wrong. But I can work on that and get better. I’m pleased. The atmosphere was brilliant; it was a privilege to be part of it.”