Belfast Telegraph

Commonwealth Games: Murdoch and Miley are the pride of Scotland

By Ronnie Esplin

Ross Murdoch read Michael Jamieson's lines to take Commonwealth gold in the men's 200 metres breaststroke final yesterday evening.

The stage had long been set for Glasgow swimmer Jamieson to top the podium in his home city, but when he was shaded by compatriot Murdoch in the heats, it looked as though the pair had been cast in the wrong roles.

And so it proved in the final showdown as Dumbarton swimmer Murdoch touched the wall first with a brilliant Games record of two minutes 07.30 seconds. Jamieson took second and England's Andrew Willis third.

Thrilled Murdoch said: "There's no way that just happened. I can't believe it. That was amazing. It's a dream come true.

"It was a massive personal best for me. I didn't think I could do that if I'm honest. I'm so surprised. I can't believe it's just happened."

He added: "It's my grandad's 70th birthday today so that swim was for him."

Jamieson was clearly disappointed with second place but said: "Ross has been on great form all season.

"He's dropped huge chunks off his best today so he deserved to win.

"I don't prepare to come second all the time. It wasn't good enough tonight."

It was another case of second best for Jamieson, who was widely expected to take the top prize this time after missing out on gold at the 2010 Commonwealths and the 2012 Olympics.

As it was, Murdoch, who is rated higher over shorter distances, took the glory.

"There is no way that just happened," he repeated. "It really is a dream come true, I'll say it again."

His rationale for that thought will have been that his previous return over any distance was a bronze at the 2013 British Championships.

Meanwhile, there were tears at Tollcross as Hannah Miley kicked off the Commonwealth Games swimming with a successful defence of her 400 metres individual medley title.

The Scottish favourite beat England's Aimee Willmott to the wall in a thrilling first final in a Games record time of four minutes 31.76 seconds.

Australia's Keryn McMaster took bronze.

It was the perfect way for the event to start in Glasgow and Miley's reaction was a tearful one, mirrored by coach and father Patrick and a number of those in the crowd.

It was a second straight Commonwealth gold in the discipline for Miley, who took her emotional state into her media duties.

"I'm absolutely knackered. I don't need a swim down because I feel quite light-headed at the moment! I've got so much lactic acid building up inside me," she said.

"Oh my God, that was just incredible. I literally couldn't feel my legs for the last 50 so, when I touched the wall, I was hoping and praying that I could go fast."

Miley lost out to Willmott when the pair last met in January and some had fancied a repeat of that. But Miley ultimately had confidence in her methods, if even if she did ask herself some searching questions along the way.

"I've had my scalp taken a couple of times and I've had to stop and take stock, ask: 'Is it really working? Am I going in the right direction? Do I need to move?"' Miley added. "But I totally trust the work that my Dad has done.

"I've also had to really take ownership of my sport, focus on what I needed to improve, research everything from nutrition to land exercises, work in the water. It has just all worked – thankfully.

"It's not just a young person's sport any more, it's anybody's game –it's just if you've got the heart and soul to fight for it."

Willmott certainly had that and although silver was her best career return and her time of 4:33:01 was a personal best, she also broke down, with her tears ones of sadness.

"I am obviously disappointed not to come away with a gold," she said. "I was happy with my time but it is so hard when you can see yourself coming away with that medal and to be overtaken in the last leg.

"This is the closest I have come to Hannah in a major competition and I can only take the positives from that."

Her medal was followed by an English bronze in the men's 400m freestyle courtesy of world finalist James Guy.

He touched in a time of 3:44:58, behind Canadian winner Ryan Cochrane and the silver-taking Australian David McKeon.

"I'm over the moon with that, I never really thought I'd get a medal," said the 18-year-old. "At the World Championships last year I expected to make a final but fifth was still good. Therefore, I am delighted with this."

Scotland's David Wallace ended fifth with compatriots Robbie Renwick and Stephen Milne seventh and eighth respectively.

Belfast Telegraph

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