A tale of two silvers and the tale of the poster boy and poster girl of Glasgow 2014. To mark the countdown to the Games, Eilidh Child had posed for photographs on the roof of Hampden Park. Tonight there were moments when she threatened to raise it. Hampden roared and Scotland’s golden girl took silver in the 400 metres hurdles.
It was a good run and a good result, not what the hosts had hoped for but what they expected – untethered optimism has been banished from this grand old ground since Ally McLeod left to bring home the World Cup – and Child did her lap of honour as the stadium bounced in celebration to Scotland’s other anthem, “500 miles”.
Happiness reigned in Hampden, although Child did have one issue. Being a committed Hearts fan and the Proclaimers dyed in the wool Hibs supporters, she was not singing along as she lapped the ground, a Saltire wrapped around her shoulders.
Like the supporters, Child was satisfied with her silver – she came in nearly a second behind Jamaica’s Kaliese Spencer, the pre-Games favourite and fastest woman in the world this year – in utter contrast with Michael Jamieson, the swimmer scripted to be the star of opening night of the Games a week earlier.
Jamieson, the poster boy, failed to handle the expectation and it hurt him. Like Child he is based in Bath and so had a remove from the growing excitement as Games time came closer. The 25-year-old Glaswegian was the only British swimmer to cope with the home Games pressure in London. He could not manage it in his own backyard and admitted nerves had got the better of his performance. His second place was no silver lining.
It seems as if Jamieson and Child stare down at you from every billboard in this city. The latter stepped out on to the track in conditions remarkably similar to those in which the slim, slight figure of Liz Lynch, later McColgan, ran to a famous gold the last time Scotland hosted the Games 18 years ago. There was to be no McColgan moment but Child did not let the occasion get the better of her.
“I came off that line and my legs were gone,” she said. “I am delighted to come away with a silver medal. I knew as soon as I crossed that line I had given my all.
“I had an easier job than Michael because I wasn’t the out-and-out favourite going into that race. I was always the underdog against Kaliese. I had a little bit less pressure than Michael – I think he’s had a bit of a raw deal. He should be proud of how he competed. I will cherish my silver medal.”
When she received it Hampden cherished her – she grinned where Jamieson had looked thunderous. To be fair Hampden cherished pretty much anybody who stepped onto the track on a chill, damp evening, from Jazmin Sawyers, who leapt to a surprise silver for England in the long jump, to her compatriots Jodie Williams and Bianca Williams taking silver and bronze in the 200m behind Blessing Okagbare, who completed an emphatic sprint double. The unrelated Williams both ran personal bests.
“It’s an amazing atmosphere,” said a buoyant Jodie. “This is just the start. This is a massive thing – we beat the Jamaicans. People are quick to write off women’s sprinters but we have shown that we can peak on this stage and in front of a strong field. It’s a sign of good things to come.”
David Weir completed his medal set by adding Commonwealth gold to his Olympic, world and European titles with victory in the T54 1500m. Weir took off round the final bend and accelerated away from the defending champion, Australia’s Kurt Fearnley, in the home straight. He was cheered every turn of the wheel.
“It was in the back of mind after 2012, should I carry on?” said Weir. “This is why I carried on. It feels like London, so many English flags.” And even more Scottish ones, and the wavers of each went home happy – which has to be a first from an evening in Hampden Park.