Scotland’s poster girl Eilidh Child duly delivered the Commonwealth Games silver medal for the 400 metres hurdles so many had predicted and hoped for at a packed Hampden Park Stadium last night.
There was to be no miracle as the red-hot favourite, Kaliese Spencer of Jamaica, eased to victory with a solid performance in a time of 54.10 secs.
Child, whose best is 54.22, might have hoped to match or even beat that time for a new Scottish record had the weather been kinder, but it was not to be. The 27-year-old Pitreavie club member was second in 55.02, comfortably ahead of the second Jamaican, Janieve Russell, who took the bronze in 55.64.
“I’ll cherish this medal because I’m happy with the way I performed,” said Edinburgh University teaching graduate Child, whose nerves cannot have been helped by a false start caused by a discus clattering into the nearby cage and causing one of her rivals to race off in fright.
Fortunately no red card was awarded and the eight-woman field got away at the next attempt.
“It wasn’t the fastest race I’ve run, but there was a lot of expectation and I’ve coped with that,” added Child.
“I’ve always said I can’t control what other people can do – that’s the reality in sport.
“I tried to shut out the crowd a bit beforehand and concentrated on what I had to do – afterwards it was amazing and the lap of honour was very special.”
In the case of Lynsey Sharp, her new mantra is now ‘be careful what you wish for’. A few weeks ago she told me, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, that she wouldn’t mind if it were to rain for the 800 metres.
Well, after a damp start, it absolutely chucked it down for the women’s semi-finals last night and European champion Sharp only squeezed into tonight’s final by the skin of her teeth.
The Capital runner finished fourth in the first semi in 2:02.28 after a below-par run by her recent standards.
After a sound first lap, covered in 58.8 secs, an old failing seemed to recur as the Mary Erskine FP let a gap grow in the back straight and she was several metres off the pace in seventh place going into the final bend.
Though she came again with a trademark late sprint, she will not be able to repeat that tonight and expect to get anywhere near the medals.
Kenyan title favourite Eunice Sum won in 2:01.38 from Canada’s Melissa Bishop (2:01.86) and New Zealand’s Angie Smit (2:01.97), with the first three qualifying automatically from each of the two races. The Edinburgh AC star just snatched fourth place in 2:02.28 from close English rival Jenny Meadows (2:02.29) then had an anxious wait in the tunnel watching the second race unfold.
“I don’t know what to say about that, but I just need to refocus for the final,” said Sharp. “It needs to be a lot different from that and back to the way I’ve been racing this season – I came through strongly at the end, but I won’t win races running like that.”
Her Capital club-mate Emily Dudgeon made a valiant effort to grab one of the automatic spots from the second semi-final, but found her route to the line blocked and ended fourth, frustrated and in tears, knowing her time would not be enough to threaten the fastest losers from the first race.
“That was so annoying – it’s agonising to miss out on a Commonwealth final in a late sprint like that,” said the former World Junior finalist, who finished behind England’s Jess Judd, the winner in 2:02.26, Ugandan Winnie Nanyondo (2:02.83) and New Zealand’s Nicki Hamblin (2:02.87). “I wanted to give it everything and I feel as if I did exactly that. I know I’m in the best shape of my life though my PB doesn’t reflect that – it’s hard to take.”
Scotland’s sole men’s 800m representative Guy Learmonth (Lasswade) made further progress, finishing sixth in the final in a new personal best of 1:46.69 after being last with 200 metres to go.
He said: “I felt so strong in the last 200m – I wasn’t expecting it but I’m happy and I can build on this and move on.”