Undisputed Josh Taylor and peerless Rangers among Scottish highlights of 2021

Duncan Scott made British Olympic history and there were landmark wins for Scotland in the Six Nations.

Pa Sport Staff
Wednesday 29 December 2021 10:07
Josh Taylor holds all the belts at his level (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Josh Taylor holds all the belts at his level (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The pandemic continued to affect sport in 2021 but there were still a number of notable achievements from Scottish teams and individuals.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at 12 success stories from across the sporting world.

St Johnstone make history

St Johnstone’s Shaun Rooney lifts the Scottish Cup (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The Perth side trebled their major trophy count this year with Betfred Cup success against Livingston and a Scottish Cup final triumph against Hibernian. To complete the fairy tale, defender Shaun Rooney hit the winner in both Hampden finals.

Josh Taylor triumphant

The Prestonpans boxer fought only once in 2021 but made more history in Las Vegas when he beat Jose Ramirez to be crowned undisputed super-lightweight champion of the world. The Scot won a unanimous decision to become the first British fighter and only the fifth man in the world to be classed undisputed champion since the four-belt era officially began in 2004. Taylor became the first Scot to be undisputed world champion since Ken Buchanan 50 years ago. Another Scottish world champion was crowned in November when Hannah Rankin collected the vacant WBA and IBO super-welterweight belts with victory over Sweden’s Maria Lindberg.

Laura Muir bags a major medal

Great Britain’s Laura Muir takes silver in Tokyo (Martin Rickett/PA)

The 28-year-old finished seventh in the 1500m final at the Rio Olympics but five years of improvement culminated in a silver medal in Japan. Muir set a new British record time of three minutes and 54.5 seconds to finish behind Faith Kipyegon of Kenya. There were further impressive achievements in middle-distance running for Scots. Muir’s training partner, Jemma Reekie, finished fourth in the 800m final and Josh Kerr won a bronze in the men’s 1500m final.

Landmark Six Nations wins

Scotland’s Duhan van der Merwe scores his side’s first try at Twickenham (David Davies/PA)

Wales won the Guinness Six Nations championship, but Scotland pulled out two historic wins. The 11-6 victory over England at Twickenham was just their fifth win at the London ground and their first since 1983. There was more to come from the Scots when they travelled to Paris. France needed to score four tries and beat Scotland by 21 points to deny Wales the title, but two tries from Duhan Van Der Merwe and one from Dave Cherry gave the Scots a 27-23 victory and a first win away to the French since 1999.

Undefeated Rangers

Rangers lift the Scottish Premiership trophy (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Rangers stopped Celtic clinching a record-breaking 10th consecutive title in style. The Light Blues finished 25 points ahead of their rivals by winning 32 and drawing six of their 38 games. Steven Gerrard’s men won all 19 games at Ibrox and conceded only 13 goals overall.

Willie Borland becomes a star

Few people outside the world of darts had heard of Willie Borland before this year’s PDC World Championship at Alexandra Palace. The 25-year-old Scot grabbed the headlines, however, with a stunning nine-dart finish in the deciding leg of his first-round debut encounter with Bradley Brooks – becoming the first player in a televised PDC event to do so.

Double gold for curlers

The 2021 European Curling Championships in Lillehammer was quite an event for Scotland as both the men and women’s team won gold by beating defending champions Sweden in their finals. Bruce Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan Jr beat Sweden 8-5 in the final. It was a third European triumph for Eve Muirhead as her newly-formed team, which included Vicky Wright, Jennifer Dodds and Hailey Duff, won 7-4.

Great Scott

Duncan Scott – the first British athlete to win four Olympic medals in a single Games (Joe Giddens/PA)

Duncan Scott became the first British athlete to win four medals in a single Olympics as he claimed one gold – in the 4x200m freestyle relay – plus three silver medals. There was further Scottish success in the pool when Kathleen Dawson was part of the mixed 4x100m medley relay team that clinched gold.

Cycling success

Katie Archibald, left, alongside team-mate Laura Kenny (Danny Lawson/PA)

Katie Archibald also shone in Tokyo, winning a gold medal in the Madison and a silver in the team pursuit. Jack Carlin also clinched two medals – a silver and a bronze – while Neah Evans landed a silver alongside Archibald.

Cricket history

Scotland’s T20 team beat Bangladesh at the World Cup on their way to getting past the opening stage of an ICC global event for the first time. Shane Burger’s team defied the disruption of their Covid-hit preparations to win all three matches and reach the Super 12. The next stage proved a difficult but important experience and gave the team plenty of hope for the future.

Mastering Augusta

Robert MacIntyre booked a return trip to the Masters after the then 24-year-old Oban golfer finished joint 12th on his debut at the major.

Steve Clarke’s men on a roll

Scotland celebrate booking a home play-off (Jane Barlow/PA)

The Scotland men’s national team qualified for the World Cup play-offs for the first time this century and gave themselves the chance to end a 24-year absence from the biggest stage in football thanks to a six-match winning run. The last time Scotland won six competitive games in a row was 1930.

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