Team Scots Make Their Mark

May 23, 2016

Olympic qualifying standards on the track, European medals in the pool and a first ever WorldRugby7s Series Cup win were the Scottish highlights across a breathtaking week of sport:

Athletics: Beth Potter became the fourth Scottish distance athlete to clinch Olympic selectionwith a superb performance at the British 10,000m trial in London on Saturday night.

Inside the qualifying mark for the second time in a matter of weeks, she finished third overalland, crucially, the second British athlete to guarantee herself a place in Rio. By holding off a stellar field including veteran Jo Pavey, who was bidding for her fifth Olympic selection, Potter will now join marathon runners Tsegai Tewelde, Callum Hawkins and Derek Hawkins on Team GB.

While Potter is assured of a place in Rio, two fellow Scots took a step closer to realising their own Olympic dream. Andrew Butchart erased one of the country’s longest-standing track records with a historic performance in Hengelo, Netherlands to take Nat Muir’s 36 year old 5000m mark.

A second Olympic qualifying standard, his 13.13.30 run was doubly remarkable In that the Central AC runner crossed the line wearing just one shoe, having lost the other during the race. Butchart now has Rio in his sights, as a top two finish at the British Champs and Olympic Trials in Birmingham in June will be enough to secure his place.

Eilish McColgan was watching Butchart’s performance trackside, having also scored a second Olympic qualifying time in Hengelo. Her 15.16.51 was well inside the required standard and, like Butchart, she now just needs a top two finish at the Trials to book her place in Rio.

Swimming: Ross Murdoch was in sensational form as he captured gold, silver and bronze across the Breaststroke events at the European Aquatics Championships in London, three of the eight medals won by Scottish swimmers.

Murdoch took silver behind GB team mate Adam Peaty in the 100m breaststroke, the event he will contest in Rio, before stunning reigning World champion Marco Koch of Germany to take gold and the European title in the 200m. Buoyed by his success, he returned to claim bronze in the 50m event, completing his set of medals and capping an outstanding championship.

Hannah Miley claimed Great Britain’s first swimming medal of the championships with silver in the 400m Individual Medley, splitting five time World champion Katinka Housszu and her Hungarian team mate Zsuzsanna Jakabos.  Miley followed up with bronze in the 200m event, again behind Hosszu, proving she is right on track for Rio.

Kathleen Dawson had a fantastic breakthrough week, lowering the Scottish 100m Backstroke record three times in three rounds to take an unexpected bronze medal. In the heats she took a tenth of a second off the record she set at last month’s Olympic Trials, before announcing her arrival as a real medal contender with her first sub-sixty second clocking to qualify second fastest for the final. Undaunted by the expectation suddenly heaped on her shoulders, she produced yet another record breaking swim, touching in 59.68 for a bronze medal she described as “unbelievable.”

To complete an incredible week, Dawson put in another magnificent swim to claim the European title as part of the GB 4x100m Medley Relay. Under the minute barrier for the third time, Dawson gave GB the lead after the first leg and her team mates Chloe Tutton, Siobhan-Marie O’Connor and Francesca Halsall held it right to the end to win gold.

Minutes later and it was left to Duncan Scott to bring the championships to an exciting climax, anchoring the Men’s Medley Relay home for a resounding win ahead of the fast finishing French and Hungarians.

Rugby 7s: Scotland 7s made history at Twickenham, winning their first ever World Series Cup final with an incredible comeback against South Africa.

Victories over hosts England and defending champions USA to make the final had already assured Scotland of eclipsing their previous highest tournament placing of fourth, but from the outset it was clear Scotland were determined not to settle for second best. A strong first half performance put the Scots into a 10-7 lead at half time, but the second half saw a revitalised South Africa not only level the score, but go on to build an eleven point lead.

South Africa looked on course for victory, as a try from each side inside the last three minutes maintained that deficit, but Scotland kept their belief right to the final whistle. Dougie Fife charged across the line inside the final minute, Scott Wight’s conversion narrowing the deficit to 4 points, before Fife struck again, after the final hooter, to give Scotland the win 27-26.

“I’m absolutely delighted for the boys,” said Head Coach Calum MacRae. “It’s testament to the guys in the programme. There’s a number of boys who’ve been there for a couple of years including the likes of Scott Riddell – it’s a great way for him to celebrate his 50th cap, a man who has given huge effort throughout and given a huge amount to Scotland 7s over the past few years.

“I’m very proud of the players. They’ve put absolutely everything into it and they’re a pleasure to work with week-to-week. They’re a real honest bunch, and it’s great that they’ve got their reward today.”

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