Eilish McColgan was inspired by surely the loudest roar heard in a British athletics stadium since the London 2012 Olympics as she took a thrilling gold medal in the 10,000m.
What made the moment even more special was that her mother Liz, who won gold over the same distance at the 1986 and 1990 Commonwealth Games, was there to cheer her on and give her a huge hug afterwards.
Coming around the final bend, McColgan was unsure whether her kick was poisonous enough to pass the Kenyan Irene Cheptai. But as the 30,000 crowd in the Alexander Stadium rose to their feet from her, the 31-year-old Scot found the power and resolved to take the first major title of her career from her.
“My family were here, the crowd on that last 100m, well it was vibrating through my own body,” said McColgan, who took victory in 30min 48.60sec. “Without the crowd, I wouldn’t have finished that. I wanted it so badly.”
“I know the girls were super strong,” said McColgan, who had come to three previous Commonwealth Games only to finish sixth each time. “But I knew if I could stay with them I had a chance of a medal. This is an absolute dream.”
What made McColgan’s win all the more impressive is that it came in a year where she was wiped her out for seven weeks due to Covid, had another illness, and also picked up a minor injury before last month’s world championships.
“It has just been an up and down year with Covid, another illness, a couple of niggles at the wrong time,” she said.
“I knew the fitness was in me. I couldn’t have asked for more. It’s so special to have this event in the UK. This is my fourth Commonwealth Games and my fourth event – I have done the 1500m, the 5km, the steeplechase.
“I have finally found the event and to win tonight is incredible. Your family knows all the ups and downs and how difficult the journey is.”
Admittedly this was a weakened 10,000m field, with neither Hellen Obiri or Margaret Kipkemboi, the silver and bronze medalists at the recent world championships, here in Birmingham. But no one would begrudge McColgan a famous victory.
“These are my fourth Commonwealths and I have come sixth every time,” she said. “I was ready to win the medal. But I wanted gold down that last 200m. It’s mad.”
Meanwhile her mother Liz was also ecstatic, adding: “The crowd were amazing. As a mother, not even as a coach, to witness your daughter winning this race is amazing. And to win it in the same event I won it in.
“She ran the race. I always knew she was capable of running. It was amazing to watch. It was very nerve-wracking.
“This has been a long time coming for Eilish. She put it all together. I know the hard work she does. It’s fantastic it has all come together and she has won.”
Elaine Thompson-Herah added the Commonwealth 100m title to her vast collection of medals with an easy victory here in Birmingham. But there was some joy for England’s Daryll Neita, who recovered from an appalling start to claim bronze.
Thompson-Herah made her trademark fast start and quickly led before coming home in 10.95sec. Silver was won by St Lucia’s Julien Alfred, while Neita was third in 11.07.
However Neita will surely be kicking herself having run 10.90 in her heat – only to stumble out of the blocks and not run her race in the final.
In the men’s 100m Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala powered home to take gold. The winning time of 10.02sec was modest but it enough to beat South Africa’s Akani Simbine into silver and Yupun Abeykoon of Sri Lanka into bronze. “I am feeling great,” said Omanyala. “This is what I wanted.”
Last year the 26-year-old ran an African record of 9.77 – making him the eighth fastest man in history. However in 2017 he served a 14-month doping ban after returning a positive drug test for a banned substance, which he says was in a painkiller he took.
“I felt I was a victim of circumstance,” he said last year. “It was a painkiller and then it turned out it had a steroid in it. That is what shaped me to be the person that I am today.” England’s Nethanell Mitchell-Blake was last, and left the track holding his hamstring, while Wales’s Jeremiah Azu was fifth.
Earlier in the day, 400m star Matthew Hudson-Smith comfortably qualified for Friday’s semi-finals by winning his heat in 46.26sec – and then said he was happy to be the favorite after his world championship bronze in Eugene.
“I’ve got a target on my back and I’m embracing it,” he You’ve got to have a chip on your shoulder or you’ll be complacent. I’m just going to sunbathe in the pressure of it.”
Asked about his hopes to follow up his bronze, Hudson-Smith added: “I’m not looking back, it’s in the past. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster.
“I’ve said all year that it’s three championships and I want three medals. We’ve got a plan for that and I’m relishing the opportunity.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism