Edinburgh’s Alex Marshall earns record fifth gold medal

Scotland's Alex Marshall. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Scotland's Alex Marshall. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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When introduced to lawn bowls by his grandad at the age of eight, Alex Marshall would not have dreamt what heights the sport would take him to.

From a small club in East Lothian, “Tattie” has gone on to become Scotland’s most successful Commonwealth Games athlete by winning his fifth gold medal in Australia.

Marshall won the lawn bowls men’s fours with Cockenzie-based Derek Oliver, Bonnyrigg -born Ronald Duncan and Paul Foster, to eclipse sprinter Alan Wells and Para-cyclist Neil Fachie.

It is a remarkable rise for the 51-year-old who has represented Scotland since 1987 – this being his sixth Commonwealth Games.

The Tranent star was part of the bowls men’s fours who set a new Scottish record of five Commonwealth Games golds as hosts Australia were beaten 15-13 on the Gold Coast.

It was Tattie’s second bite at the cherry of becoming the most successful Scottish Commonwealth Games athlete after he and partner Paul Foster suffered a surprise defeat to Wales in the lawn bowls men’s pairs final and claimed a silver medal.

Elder brother Robert Marshall, 54, spoke of his pride at seeing his younger sibling pick up his record fifth Commonwealth gold.

He said: “He was very unlucky earlier in the week to miss out on that fifth gold so I’m so pleased he was able to get another medal.

“He has done so well and we’re very proud of him. Mum and dad would have been so proud.

“To win five golds and a silver is fantastic. He is very well supported in Edinburgh and is a well liked character.

“He’s always been a good player since he was young. He’s been playing for more than 40 years and you could tell he could play at a high level.

“Alex works and trains hard and it’s great to see it has all paid off.

“We will have a good celebration event when he gets back from Australia.”

His medal haul includes two golds in Glasgow in 2014, and golds in 2006 in Melbourne and 2002 in Manchester.

Tattie, who also holds the record for the most world titles with 20, began his medals haul with three gold medals at the 1992 World Outdoor Championships continuing all the way through to a record sixth World Indoor Singles title in 2015.

His comical nickname is believed to have arose due to being unable to say daddy when he was younger.

He’s a member of Gifford Bowling & Sports Club and the bowling arena at East Lothian Indoor Bowling at Meadowmill was renamed the Alex Marshall Arena back in 2015.

East Lothian Indoor Bowling Club secretary Scott Kennedy woke up at 3am yesterday morning to watch the exciting final with friends and club colleagues before going on a stag do in Newcastle – a trip Alex was due to make if not for his international commitments.

He said: “As a club we are over the moon for Alex. It is incredible that a member of our club has gone on to achieve what he has. He is different class.

“We’re all just so proud of him. To have the most decorated bowler at your club is amazing.

“I’ve also spoken to Derek Oliver, who also is a member of our club. They’ve both done extremely well and we couldn’t be more pleased.

“This success will also do the sport the world of good.

“Bowls is regarded as an ‘old man’s’ sport. But you can see that men and women of all ages can take part. Hopefully the success of the bowls team out in Australia will encourage further participation in the sport for people of all ages.”

Scottish athletes have already celebrated securing the country’s best-ever medal haul at an oversees Commonwealth Games. Their tally stands at 41, including nine gold medals.

Team Scotland won a record 53 medals at Glasgow 2014 but the previous best performance at an away Games was at Melbourne in 2006 with 29 medals.

Norman Hampshire, Depute Leader of East Lothian Council, said: “It’s been a successful Commonwealth Games for East Lothian athletes.

“Huge congratulations to all participants and Alex and Derek on this latest triumph. For Alex it’s a particularly historic achievement.

“The council is delighted to see East Lothian’s tradition of bowls success continue.”

Speaking from the Gold Coast after the win, Stewart Harris, sportScotland Chief Executive, said: “Congratulations to Alex, Paul, Ronnie and Derek on winning gold at the Commonwealth Games.

“It couldn’t have been a more dramatic conclusion with Scotland taking four in the final end to win, they did brilliantly to hold their nerve. A special mention for Alex who has become Scotland’s most successful Commonwealth Games athlete, winning his fifth gold medal, a tremendous achievement.

“It is fantastic that Team Scotland’s bowlers have managed to build on the great results at Glasgow 2014, and the performances in Gold Coast will help to continue that legacy of success in the sport.”

Alex is set for an extended break in Australia with wife Diane as he plans to participate again in bowling leagues Down Under.