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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Commonwealth Games: Ross Murdoch’s ‘poetic’ final bronze powered by rock ‘n’ roll & raw emotion

Hosts: Birmingham Dates: 28 July to 8 August
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV with extra streams on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport mobile app; Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live and Sports Extra; live text and clips online.

“I got a really good message from my old coach and he was like: ‘That’s where you started your career son – in lane eight, when nobody believed in you. And that’s how you’ll finish.'”

The poetic text Ross Murdoch’s first coach Jimmy Orr sent him the morning of his 50m breaststroke final painted a fairy-tale ending that few would have thought possible.

Except, this is Murdoch. The man who – as an unknown 20-year-old – stunned the Glasgow 2014 games by winning a shock gold in the 200m breaststroke.

The man who seems to use the blue and white of Scotland, the roar of his own folk, and raw emotion, to squeeze every last morsel from himself, like few others.

The 28-year-old emerged from the tunnel at the Sandwell Aquatics Arena before the final individual race of his career, and turned towards a smattering of Scots high in the stands, glared, and put his fingers up to his head.

Devil horns. We all should have known better.

“That right there is just all heart,” Murdoch, who was in tears after his achievment, said.

“It makes it so much easier when there’s a crowd there behind your back and you can see the Saltires. I don’t know what it is about racing for Scotland. It’s just different for me, it’s all I ever wanted.”

‘I sat there playing guitar with tears in my eyes’

Twenty-seven seconds after the splash of bodies hitting water, and while the arena erupted for previously beleaguered gold medallist and home favourite Adam Peaty, Murdoch – having qualified slowest – was there, chest-thumping and lashing the water after a second sensational bronze.

The horns were an ode to ACDC lead guitarist Angus Young and his trademark salute.

Something he, his brother and sister have been doing for years. Yet another touch of emotion to bring out the demon in the pool.

“It was dubbed the Yeti the other day – I’ll take that on with pride,” Murdoch laughed.

“[Before the race] I sat by myself for about an hour playing my guitar with tears in my eyes and I was like: ‘This is it man, believe in yourself, stand up and do it!’

“I’m absolutely buzzin’ I’ve done it. It’s the only one I’ve never ever had. I’ve had a 200m medal, a 100m medal, but all I ever wanted to be was a 50m breaststroker…it’s a poetic end.”

‘Hopefully I’ve done them justice’

Murdoch’s double bronze in Birmingham is all the more remarkable given he gave up swimming in December 2021.

He had to beg the elite coaching team at Stirling to take him back just a few months before the Games.

He knew it would be his last chance to represent his country, and was never about to give that up. Not a chance.

“I’ve made a few mistakes along the way,” Murdoch said.

“Sometimes I’ve made silly decisions and upset them. But I hope I’ve done them proud and done them justice and proved that I did give them everything.”

There are higher achievers, and more decorated athletes. But nobody could claim to have given more than Ross Murdoch.

Source: BBC

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