Uni swimmer Olivia White scores surprise gold

Craig McNally
Craig McNally
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Edinburgh University’s Olivia White, who comes from Leeds, scored a surprise win in the 200m breaststroke at yesterday’s Edinburgh International Meet at the Royal Commonwealth Pool.

But there was no such golden joy for Scotland’s Commonwealth Games Champion Ross Murdoch in the equivalent men’s event. With the World Championship trails taking place in London in four weeks, the 21-year-old could only finish fourth in the final that was billed as the race of the Championships.

It wasn’t the only disappointment for the home crowd. It had been hoped that final would be the first rematch of the Glasgow 2014 spectacular when Murdoch held off the challenge from the favourite Michael Jamieson.

But Jamieson, eighth in the 100m final on Saturday evening, didn’t even make it to the starting blocks for the 200m heats yesterday morning. The 2012 Olympic silver medalist offered no explanation.

But it was still an impressive line-up in the final, and it was England’s Andrew Willis, the man who took bronze behind the two Scots at the Commonwealth Games, who got the pre-trial boost. He clocked 2:12.22 ahead of Adam Peaty (2:12.88) and James Wilby ((2:13.23). Murdoch, who has been ill this winter, touched in 2:14.18 and will need to step up a mark if he is to make Team GB for the World Championships in Russia this summer.

On Saturday, Murdoch didn’t even make the final of the 100m breaststroke – he could only manage a win in the B event.

Willis, an experienced 25-year-old who trains with Jamieson in Bath, is determined to make the grade, and he said: “I’m dead happy with this swim. It’s all about getting ready for trials. The breaststroke is so strong in Britain.”

White won the women’s event in 2:26.71 ahead of England’s Molly Renshaw in 2:26.79.

Warrender’s Craig McNally, who wasn’t well and had a low key Commonwealth games, won the 200m backstroke on Saturday in 2:00.78 and will be bidding to make his second World Championships this summer.

“Two years ago, I made some massive jumps,” said the Edinburgh swimmer. “But going into Commonwealth Games year, I didn’t get what I wanted due to fatigue and illnesses. So this year is about coming back from that and showing what I can do. I saw the doctor the night before my race at the Games and all they could tell is it was some virus going round. Now it’s about focusing on this year.

“I’ve beaten my in-season times from last year. So I’m feeling more positive.”