Photos by Bobby Gavin
Zoey Clark has reached her first Commonwealth Games final in the Women’s 400m.
And Beth Dobbin made it a sprint double less than an hour later as she progressed from the Women’s 200m semi-finals to add yet more Scots to the lists of finalists.
It was a brilliant moment for the pair as individuals, of course, and their families, coaches and clubs, but also for Scottish sprinting.
Here was clear evidence of recent improvement and it could not have been more merited in terms of the individuals – with Zoey at her third Games and Beth by contrast having missed Gold Coast qualifying by one hundredth of a second.
It’s credit to their hard work and progress along the way that they have reached this level – with family and friends no doubt sharing the moment at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham.
Zoey in the opening semi-final of two in the 400m event on Friday evening. She came home in fourth place in 51.99 – just four hundredths away from third place and automatic progression to Sunday’s final.
Zoey then had to endure a wait while the second race unfolded and, as it happened, her time was good enough with Nicole Yeargin missing out in fifth place. Nicole had clocked 52.24.
‘I am really happy,’ said Zoey.
‘For me the goal here was to make a Commonwealth final – I was a semi-finalist in Gold Coast so I am already one up on that!
‘The race itself was a little bit messy and there are things I think we can work on. But the great thing is I am through and have another chance.’
Beth raced in the last of three in the Women’s 200m semis.
It was a solid performance and she was close to the second automatic place but had to settle for third in 23.28.
And that was just enough to see her into the final as the programme closes on Saturday night.
‘I’m really chuffed with that and it’s great to be in the Commonwealth Games final and get another chance to race in this magnificent stadium and in front of a great crowd,’ said Beth.
‘I missed out on Gold Coast by a fraction and I was so naive at the time I thought they would still pick me.
‘I trained really hard all winter and then found out in March I had not been selected! But it was the best thing that happened to me in many ways because I set out to try and prove people wrong.’
All three athletes – Clark, Dobbin and Yeargin – should be involved on Sunday evening when Team Scotland are expected to line up with eight other nations in a straight final of the Women’s 4x400m Relay.
Photo by Bobby Gavin
Laura Muir was back in action after reaching the 800m final earlier in the week.
This time the Olympic and Worlds medallist was looking to make the 1500m final and she did so comfortably with a late surge to take fourth in the first heat on Friday morning.
‘It’s two Commonwealth finals now on Saturday night and Sunday night and I am looking forward to them,’ said Laura.
‘It will be tough because I think the Commonwealth standards are high. But I’d rather be here competing than sitting at home and watching them on television.’
Jemma Reekie clocked 4:16 for sixth in a tight finish in the second heat and it was just enough for her to go through to Sunday evening’s final.
‘I’m excited to be in a final again and this is my first Commonwealths,’ said Jemma, eliminated in the heats in the 800m on Tuesday morning.
‘To have Laura and myself to make it two is great for Scottish athletics and hopefully I can remind myself that I can run quick in the 1500m! I was just a little rusty there and had to wait and see on the qualifying time.
‘I was upset after the 800m but I picked up when my coach and Team Scotland said ‘why not do the 1500m’. It gave me another chance and I wanted to take it.’
Heather Paton finished fifth in her heat in the 100m Hurdles but was satisfied with a 13.39 Season Best performance after early season injury.
‘I have to be happy with Season Best run after injuries this year. It was so good to be out there in a Scotland vest competing in Alexander Stadium – which is home venue for my club, Birchfield.
‘My dad is a passionate Glaswegian (Billy McGinty) who played rugby league professionally and for Scotland. Ever since I came into the sport I’ve wanted to represent Scotland at a Commonwealth Games so it feels amazing to do so.
‘I’m in the relay squad for the 4x100m and the team are all buzzing about getting to run year.
‘The four of them ran the qualifying standard twice so they deserve this opportunity and hopefully we can take it.’
Heather’s time of 13.39 is in fact the best ever by a Scottish woman in this event, improving on the 13.57 by Elaine McMaster in 1982.