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ATHLETICS REVIEW: Hampden memories bolted down

Jamaica's Kemar Bailey Cole (second left) wins ahead of second placed England's Adam Gemili in the Men's 100m Final at Hampden Par

Jamaica's Kemar Bailey Cole (second left) wins ahead of second placed England's Adam Gemili in the Men's 100m Final at Hampden Par

In the end there was nothing to worry about

Then there were the failed drug tests, Welsh pair Gareth Warburton and Rhys Williams thrown out of the Games for alleged doping offences.

Added to that the miles of queues - often in the rain - many fans experienced trying to get into Hampden Park and it was easy to think enthusiasm would run dry fast.

Not a bit of it.

The grand old stadium, perfectly suited to athletics, was packed to the rafters every day, the cheers for the Scots only a little louder than the ones afford to those from south of the border.

And they had plenty to get excited about.

Eilidh Child, the poster girl of the Games, her picture plastered on billboards across Glasgow, lived up to her billing by delivering silver in the 400m hurdles.

Team-mate Lynsey Sharp was even more impressive, timing her finish to perfection to snatch 800m silver to finish a day which started with her so ill she was on a drip in the athletes' village clinic. It was the perhaps the race of the Games.

Libby Clegg, the Paralympic sprinter, earned Scotland's only track gold in the 100m with her guide runner Mikhail Huggins, but managing to stay composed on top of the podium as the whole stadium boomed out Flower of Scotland was arguably an ever greater feat.

In the absence of some of England's biggest names - Greg Rutherford was the only London 2012 Super Saturday gold medallist on show - the rising stars enjoyed their chance to shine. And the sprinters really seized it.

There were first senior major championship medals for Adam Gemili, who took silver in the 100m, and Jodie and Bianca Williams, who took silver and bronze respectively in the 200m.

The potential in British sprinting, both men's and women's, two years out from the 2016 Olympics, is hugely exciting, further emphasised by silver and bronze in the 4x100m relay.

Hampden witnessed the emergence of a hugely-exciting 400m prospect too as Matthew Hudson-Smith, aged just 19 and until this season a 200m runner, ran a 44.56 seconds split to bring the 4x400m quartet home to gold.

At the other end of the spectrum 40-year-old mother-of-two Jo Pavey took the fight to the Kenyans and came away with a remarkable bronze in the 5,000m.

Rutherford, who considered quitting after a 2013 season so ravaged by injury, claimed the victory he craved to silence the critics who branded his Olympic title a fluke.

England finished fourth in the athletics medal table with five golds, but their total haul of 27 was more than any other nation.

Bolt's restriction to the relay did not prevent the circus around the world's fastest man from continuing unabated - from his highly-anticipated arrival to the bizarre welcome press conference to the alleged - and denied - slurs on his time in Scotland to the rapturous Hampden reception and the utterly predictable gold medal.

The six-time Olympic champion provided a fitting conclusion to a week which has exceeded expectations by anchoring his team to victory in the 4x100m relay in atrocious conditions.

It was Bolt's first Commonwealth gold - and almost certainly his last too.

He said he would like to be on the Gold Coast in four years time, but "maybe not as an athlete".

The 2017 World Championships in London are set to be his final major championships.

"I've always said that after Rio (the 2016 Olympics) I wanted to retire, by they keep saying I should go on to 2017, so I think I might just do that. I think that will be my last championship," he said.

"I remember asking Michael Johnson why he retired when he was on top and he told me there was nothing else for him to accomplish, so I think when you are in a sport and have accomplished everything you should just retire. To stay in the sport with these young kids coming up you may just start getting beaten and I hate losing."

There was no danger of that here. Despite not having raced all season following a foot injury, he was still in a class of his own.

David Rudisha, the graceful Kenyan was 800m world record was the stand-out performance of London 2012, came despite not being on top form and was chased down by Botswana's Nijel Amos in the home straight, having to settle for silver.

He was as gracious in defeat here as he was in victory two years ago.

There was no doubting the real star of the show, though.

Bolt embarked on a lap of honour after his gold medal win, posing for selfies right, left and centre, draped in a Saltire and wearing a tartan hat and scarf, which could have gone on well into the early hours.

"I do what I do different from everybody, I bring energy, I like to interact with the crowd, so I guess that makes me a little bit different from most athletes," he said.

Bolt, the master showman, may never return to Scotland. But one thing is clear - he will always be welcome.

 

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