By Paul Eddison, Sportsbeat
Two generations of Scottish swimmers were honoured on the opening night in the pool at Birmingham 2022 with a trio of bronze medals.
Teenager Katie Shanahan was overcome with emotion after claiming a shock bronze medal in the women’s 400m IM, and that was followed by another for Toni Shaw in the women’s 100m freestyle S9.
The biggest roar of all came from Ross Murdoch, on the verge of retirement at the start of the year, but back with a bang in the event where he first made his name eight years ago in Glasgow, the men’s 200m breaststroke.
Only a matter of weeks ago he was described as some sort of Crimean War fighter with his overgrown beard and hairy chest.
It was the stripped back boy from the Vale on show at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre, and that youthful exuberance was evident in the beaming smile as he snatched bronze behind world record holder Zac Stubblety-Cook and close friend and English rival James Wilby.
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He said: “I did a swim a couple of weeks ago, (former Commonwealth champion) Andy Jameson described me as a yeti, I had a massive beard, a chest-full of hair.
“Chris Martin, a Malaysian coach who used to coach at Stirling, said I looked like one of those Crimean war soldiers.
“Tonight I probably look exactly like I did eight years ago – just a wee boy from the Vale.
“I thought, if I just get my head down and really control this race and do it in my own way, I won’t be far away. I thought I’d be between third and fifth, third best case scenario and fifth worst, it came out best.
“At the end of the day, my coaches convinced me, they believed me and said they thought I could do it. Hats off to them for taking me back so openly in February and challenging me every day.”
At 28, Murdoch has well and truly reached veteran status in the world of swimming, and will be calling it a day at the end of these Games.
Shanahan is at the other end of the spectrum, still just 18 and making her first appearance on this stage.
It was the first time in two decades that Hannah Miley was not competing at the Commonwealth Games and it was fitting that the two-time 400m medley champion was in the stands commentating as Shanahan produced a blistering 4:39.37 to win an unlikely bronze medal from lane one.
Miley’s successor was overcome with emotion and surprise, bursting into tears following the race.
She said: “After the race I was really emotional, I didn't actually believe it happened.
“To follow in (Hannah’s) footsteps and follow what she's achieved and her legacy at the Commonwealth Games, it's really special. I know she's up there commentating, that was really special.”
And there was more to come with Shaw getting over her frustrating habit of picking up fourth places to make it a hat-trick of bronzes.
She said: “I'm absolutely buzzing, I don't really have any words. I knew it was going to be really, really close. I'm glad to be on the right side of the finish this time.”
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