Emotional Ross Murdoch bids farewell with Commonwealth bronze

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Emotional Ross Murdoch bids farewell with Commonwealth bronze
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Ross Murdoch waited until the last race of his career to make his childhood dream come true.

All eyes in Sandwell Aquatics Centre were drawn to the hulking tattooed frame of Adam Peaty as his turbulent week ended with gold in the 50m breaststroke.

But over in lane eight there was a boy from Balloch swimming the length he always dreamt of, taking a bronze medal that was as good as gold, if not better.

A tearful Murdoch said: “I got a good message earlier from my old coach. He said, ‘that’s where you started your career, son, in lane eight, when nobody believed in you, and that’s where you’ll finish’.

“It really got me going today. I sat by myself for about an hour, playing the guitar with tears in my eyes, I was like `this is it, you can do it, believe in yourself.”

Murdoch was second quickest off the block and swam a perfect blind race of pure commitment, touching the wall in a time of 27.32 seconds.

His only other major 50m breaststroke medal came at the 2016 European Championships in London, and Murdoch was in floods of tears in the post-raced mixed zone.

He said: “I’m absolutely buzzing, I've done it. It’s the only one I’ve never had.

“I’ve had a 200 medal, a 100 medal, but all I ever wanted to be a 50 breaststroker. Apart from the relay, this is my individual career finished, I think. It’s a good way to end.”

This summer, Team Scotland, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, compromises of over 250 athletes, all vying for medal success.

It turned out Murdoch had a key role in Peaty’s resurgence to claim the only major title that has ever eluded him.

Peaty revealed: “I said to Ross on the swim down that I didn’t want to do the 50. Ross told me, ‘No, because you’ll regret it the day after and the year after.’

“I’m glad he was there to encourage me.”

There was a quiet exit from the swimming scene for Livingston’s Craig Benson, with the London 2012 Olympian’s individual career coming to end with fifth place.

Aberdeen teenager Toni Shaw came close to a second medal of the meet with fourth in the women’s 200m individual medal for SM10 athletes.

The versatile 18-year-old held a medal position through the first two legs but was pushed down to fourth by Australia’s Keira Stephens, touching the wall in a time of 2:39.39.

Shaw said: “I thought I was going to come fourth or fifth going into it, those girls are fast.

“With my breaststroke not being my best, I thought that might be the outcome, I’m just grateful to get another race.”

Earlier Stornoway swimmer Kara Hanlon, who learnt her trade in a 12.5m pool, covered 100m breaststroke in a time of 1:08.67 to finish eighth.

Craig McNally came away with seventh place in the men’s 200m backstroke that will be remembered for an epic battle between England’s Brodie Williams and Luke Greenbank.

Williams took gold with a surge to the wall while Greenbank was swum out of the medals by Australian and South African rivals.

Youngster Keanna McInnes delivered a bold swim in the women’s 200m butterfly.

She led the field through the first length in a time of 28.77 and but then faded to seventh place with silver won by England’s Laura Stephens.

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