Commonwealth Games diary . . . a few thoughts from Birmingham

Tuesday 9th August 2022

First night at the stadium . . . and Bobby Gavin already in vintage form!

Eight will be great! Best medal tally for 40 years

By Peter Jardine, Head of Communications

Bobby Gavin’s photography has been a shining light in our Birmingham 2022 coverage.

What a shift he put in from Sean Frame’s silver medal in the Wheelchair Marathon on the first Saturday morning right through to (very) late on Sunday night.

In between the marathon and the track and field action starting early on Tuesday morning, Bobby answered a call from Team Scotland to cover boxing, weight-lifting, bowls and gymnastics. Another string to his photographic bow.

Bobby brings dedication and professionalism to his role with us and is a massive asset for the sport.

The clear target was to give all 33 team members action photos which captures their memories of Birmingham 2022. When upwards of half a dozen compete at the same session, that can be a big ask.

The medal ceremony photos are hugely popular, of course, but don’t happen by chance. The Birmingham 2022 Photo Manager assessed demand via requests and priority is given to those countries with an athlete on the podium.

Thus when Samantha Kinghorn received her bronze medal from Seb Coe, for example, Bobby was barely ten feet away with one of the best allocated positions.

Similarly, when field finals are taking place he had to rely on goodwill from the Photo Manager, and the Officials in the stadium, in order to deliver top shots.

It’s a big job over 10-11 days but the photos we’ve published will ensure Birmingham 2022 is remembered in perpetuity.

By Sunday evening, he practically had a ‘season ticket’ for the medal ceremony photo positions . . .

Samantha Kinghorn receives her 1500m bronze medal (photo by Bobby Gavin)


Jake displays his 1500m bronze medal after thrilling final at the Alexander Stadium (photo by Bobby Gavin)

Talking of Seb Coe, we can reveal that the World Athletics President and BBC Athletics Commentator Steve Cram both played a role in adding to the Team Scotland medal tally.

Jake Wightman came back to Britain after his World Champs victory in Oregon a few days before dad/coach/stadium commentator Geoff.

With his new status and widespread media attention, there was a spell when Jake seriously considered pulling out of Birmingham 2022.

We understand first Cram advised him to switch to the 800m. Coe, a mentor to both Geoff and Jake, was then involved in the family discussions and suggested delaying the decision a couple of extra days would help.

Ultimately, Jake didn’t like the idea of others chasing 1500m medals in a final he had worked towards for the past two years. He duly delivered an important bronze to add to the overall tally and also back up his Oregon win with two podium places in less than a fortnight.

‘I love being with Team Scotland and Scottish Athletics have done so much for me and for us over the years that I was really keen to try and play my part,’ said Jake.

‘I think this is the Games when potential has been realised in the medal tally and that’s brilliant for the sport in Scotland.’



Putting others in the shade . . . Laura Muir now has 11 major medals (photo by Bobby Gavin)

Remarkably, Sunday evening’s 1500m final was Laura’s 19th major final at an international championship event, competing either for GB and NI for Team Scotland.

Looking across indoor and outdoor events, that takes in Europeans, World Champs, Olympics and the Commonwealth Games.

Bronze on Saturday night took Laura’s medal tally to 10 and that was followed with No 11 when the 29-year-old took gold on Sunday evening.

Arnold Black, our Historian, listed Laura’s finals thus:

‘Two Olympics; five World Champs; one European Champs; six European Indoors; two World Indoors and now three at Commonwealth Games.

‘It we add a European U23 Champs and the World Junior Champs then the overall tally reaches 21.’

(*We make it Eilidh Doyle is our most decorated track and field athlete with 17 medals. So no need to panic, Eilidh. Yet.)


Heather Paton lines up for the 100m Hurdles in another superb Bobby Gavin image

As a Birchfield Harriers athlete, hurdler Heather Paton described Alexander Stadium as ‘my home track’.

Except the redeveloped arena felt like a completely new stadium – at least to many of us as observers.

‘There are elements of it that do feel the same – honestly – but the regeneration is incredible,’ said Heather.

‘They have created a superb athletics venue and to see the stands so full so often, including morning sessions, is great for us as athletes.’

Andy Butchart and then Eilish McColgan spoke of the noise vibrating through them as they pounded the track in the distance events and Eilish, of course, felt the crowd ‘roared her home’ when claiming 10,000m gold.

Big sporting events in Britain do tend to draw huge crowds and evoke enthusiasm. What happens next for the Alexander Stadium in terms of British Champs and Diamond Leagues could be important for our sport.

Incoming is a 2026 European Championship bid by UK Athletics with the Alexander Stadium looking the perfect venue with the Europeans (surprisingly) never having been held in Britain.


Photo by Bobby Gavin

Beth Dobbin’s back-story has multiple layers.

The Scottish Record holder at 200m, Beth’s battle to reach this level includes epilepsy, working three different jobs while trying to be an elite athlete, and a connection to Scottish and English football via her dad Jim.

She cheered on Scotland at Hampden at Glasgow 2014 and making her dad proud has been a big motivation.

But after reaching the Games final last week Beth revealed how missing out on Gold Coast in 2018 by one hundredth of a second was a big factor.

‘I missed the time by one hundredth in the summer of 2017,’ recalled the 28-year-old.

‘I was so naïve at the time that I thought they would take me to Gold Coast anyway. I trained really hard all winter thinking I would be competing in Australia. The final team selection was in February/March and I finally found out I had missed out.

‘But it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I wanted to put the hard work to good use and I wanted to prove people wrong. I kicked on that summer and was selected for the first time by GB and NI for European Championships in Berlin – and made the final.’

Around that time, Beth was working four jobs, including on being on reception at the High Performance sports centre at Loughborough as elite funded athletes checked in and out for their training.

A number of others in the team like Sarah Inglis, Jenny Selman, David Smith, Chris Bennett, Kirsty Law – to name but five – have been on a similar journey.

It was good to see Birmingham 2022 as a destination.

And even better when that late disqualification decision helped propel the Women’s 4x400m team to the podium and bronze for Beth, Jill Cherry, Nicole Yeargin and Zoey Clark.

As it transpired, the quartet had to celebrate in a near-empty stadium. But we’re pretty sure the feelings were those of total fulfilment.



Tags: Beth Dobbin, Bobby Gavin, Heather Paton, Jake Wightman, Laura Muir, Samantha Kinghorn, Seb Coe

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