A PRE-COMMONWEALTH Games prediction by Inverness Harrier Jamie Bowie turned out to be at least half correct as Scotland’s men’s 4x400m relay team picked up an excellent fifth place in Saturday night’s final at Hampden Park.
Bowie previously stated that he believed the quartet might have to break the Scottish national record in the event in order to reach the final.
In the end they twice ran inside the previous figure, but it turned out that it was not necessary to run quite so fast in order to progress.
In Friday night’s heats, the team management placed Bowie on the second leg in the last of the three heats, which also included the major forces of England and Jamaica.
When he picked up the baton from Kris Robertson, the Inverness runner unleashed an amazing 45.00 second flying split to set up Grant Plenderleith and Greg Louden to bring the team home in third place in 3 minutes 03.94 seconds. This was 0.74 seconds inside the Scottish national record of 3.04.68 set by the squad that won silver medals in the 1990 Games in New Zealand.
With two from each heat to qualify by right, in addition to the two fastest losers, it turned out that their effort had not only got them through comfortably, but had also produced the fourth fastest time across all three heats.
Come Saturday night’s final, the weather had changed dramatically for the worse with heavy rain in danger of flooding the track.
A tactical decision led to Bowie and Plenderleith exchanging laps and Plenderleith received the baton from Robertson in sixth place. He held this until he passed on to Bowie, who then defied the elements to run 45.21, again the fastest split from the Scottish team, and promote them to fifth. Louden held this on the final stage to bring Scotland home in 3.04.07, incredibly close to the previous evening’s effort given the huge change in the elements.
"We have to be really happy with that performance and when it was all over I think we did the longest lap of honour ever, it took so long to get past the crowd in Hampden," said Bowie.
"It was also great to get that national record in the heats and run under it again in much worse conditions in the final.
"The guys who held this record won silver medals in Auckland 24 years ago, so it means a lot to take that and it is more than two seconds quicker than we did to qualify, which shows how we are stepping up."
Bowie now joins Jayne Barnetson (high jump and heptathlon) and Neil Fraser (110m hurdles) on the list of Harriers to have held national senior records at some time in their careers.
There was also progress to the final of the women’s discus for Kirsty Law. Vitally, the 27-year-old sealed that with her very first effort of 54.33m in Thursday night’s qualifying competition and improved slightly to 54.68 in the second.
Then in Friday night’s final, she was a couple of metres down on her efforts of 24 hours previously and her 52.33m meant that she just missed the cut for the top eight in the last three rounds.
"The big thing for me is that I reached the final of the Commonwealth Games and that alone has made it worthwhile for me," she said.
"Of course I would like to have thrown further and reached the last eight, but I am still happy at reaching that final and I’m now focusing on defending my Scottish title in a couple of weeks time."
Caley Thistle fan Law also revealed that making the progress she did at the Games also had an extra significance for her.
"I can now actually say that I have reached a final at Hampden before Caley Thistle have, because of course their League Cup final was at Celtic Park, but it would be great to see them get to Hampden as well this season," she said.
"I also remember missing a chance to see them in a Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden 10 years ago because I came back from warm weather training on the day of the game against Dunfermline, but they weren’t selling tickets at the gate so I just had to go home. Here’s hoping they’re back there again soon."
ALAN Clyne was left crestfallen after he and partner Harry Leitch narrowly missed out on clinching a medal in the men’s doubles of the squash at the Commonwealth Games.
The Team Scotland duo had to settle for fourth place after losing 2-0 to the English pairing of Daryl Selby and James Willstrop in the bronze medal match having earlier succumbed by a similar scoreline to Adrian Grant and Nick Matthew, also from England, in the semi-finals.
"The crowd has been fantastic," said Clyne, of Munlochy, who went out of the mixed doubles to New Zealand in the last 16 of the competition alongside Fran Gillen-Buchert.
"It was great arena, a fantastic atmosphere and a great place to play. I don’t know if I will be able to play again in somewhere like this. I definitely won’t with this level of support.
"The overwhelming feeling is disappointment not to be able to get that medal in front of them."
Greg Lobban, from Inverness, and his playing partner Stuart Crawford bowed out in the men’s doubles quarter-final, losing 2-0 to Australia
Meanwhile, Scottish women’s hockey captain Linda Clement, who was born in Inverness, announced that she was retiring from international duty.
Scotland’s 2-1 loss to India meant they finished the tournament in sixth place having previously had their medal hopes ended by England.
"It’s been really special," said Clement (34). "I’m feeling disappointed, but I think I’ll look back and reflect on it and it’s been a really special experience playing at a home Games in front of a home crowd.
"This is my last Scotland game. It was always going to be that way and it would have been great to finish on a high.
"We came into the tournament wanting to do something special, something that Scotland has never done before — it just wasn’t to be, but I’ve had a long and very enjoyable career. All good things have to come to an end and it’s time to hang up the boots.
"I am proud and it’s always been an absolute honour to put on a Scotland shirt and play for my country. All four Games I have been at have been fantastic, but I think playing at a home Games has been extra special.
"In some respects it’s a great way to end, I just wish we could have met our target."