No spoken exclamations or gushing and no uttered consternation or chiding in Scotland would be complete without the delightfully emphasised adjective ‘wee’ for little Scots – mostly tiny, though not always young. Angus war veteran Andy Coogan, 97, could call his great-grand-nephew, the great Sir Chris Hoy, wee.
You need to hear them say it, to believe the glee when they talk of their many ‘wees’. And so it was that wee Erraid Davies, a 13-year-old from Shetland islands – a tiny community with two schools that has routinely produced great writers and poets – ended up inching the whole of Scotland towards their all-time medal-count high at their home Commonwealth Games.
They’re fourth as of mid-Wednesday with 39 medals, six more than the Edinburgh count.
The Para-sport SB9 final breaststroke swimmer in 100m won Scotland its 33rd overall medal, helping equal their best pickings from the last home Games at Edinburgh in 1986. The home nation had started with modest expectations of bettering Edinburgh, but with five more days to go, that number might be way higher and help them hold onto the third position.
Reaching 33 though could not have been more rousing. “Her face lit up the whole of Tollcross when she knew she’d won bronze. She couldn’t stop smiling,” said Graham Worral, Scotland’s swimming high performance director of the Monday night magic.
Suffering from Perthes disease that debilitates her hip and mobility, Davies won bronze behind Paralympic champ and world para-games champion medallist Sophie Pascoe – herself a single-leg amputee – and if that wasn’t enough charmed the audience by confessing that she’d kept the fact that she’d be spending her summers at the Commonwealth Games a secret from her school-mates at Brae for she didn’t know how to phrase it.
But Tollcross, Glasgow’s most intimately warm venue serving hot fresh scones, also home-pool to a few swimmers who’ve grown up in the neighbourhood, was the scene of some emotional moments this last week, as swimming alongside Judo has pushed Scotland’s medal tally dramatically. “It’s not that we expected it. Though we hoped, swimming would do well,” says Worral, adding, “we’re delighted that Scottish swimmers have stepped up to the occasion, and are not scared to take on the likes of Australia.”
The Aussies are intimidating sharks in any water-body, but in a pool at the Commonwealth they carry an aura that can drown anyone daring to line up in adjacent lanes. In his own grudgingly respectful way, an Australian supporter remarked, “They’re lucky if they win 1, but 3 gold is amazing!” forgetting that Melbourne had fetched them 14, including 6 gold. Women’s swimmer Caitlin McClatchey was the big star at Melbourne, and has happily handed over the baton continued…