WRESTLING: Adopted Scot Viorel Etko delivers medal for hosts

Scotland's Viorel Etko celebrates winning the FS 61 kg wrestling bronze medal match
Scotland's Viorel Etko celebrates winning the FS 61 kg wrestling bronze medal match

Adopted Scot Viorel Etko felt the proudest man in Glasgow after delivering the host nation’s first wrestling Commonwealth Games medal in 20 years with bronze in the 61kgs at the SECC.

The 36-year-old was born in Moldova before leaving to pursue his athletic career first in Romania, then London in 1998, where he waited on tables and laboured on building sites before heading north of the border, eventually settling down to marry gymnast Laura Davies.

Etko fought through to the semi-finals, beating England’s George Ramm along the way, before he was defeated by eventual gold medallist David Tremblay of Canada.

The gym owner from Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, recovered to see off Malta’s Adam Vella to claim repechage bronze - and with it become the first Scottish wrestler to stand on the Commonwealth Games podium since Calum McNeil and Graeme English in Victoria 1994.

“I am probably the proudest parent here, because I have my nine-year-old son Leon here watching. I wanted to give him and all the other little kids a gift, all who are future Scottish athletes,” said Etko, who came out of retirement to fight in Glasgow.

“I am fortunate to be the person who has done this. I thought I could make some history in Scottish wrestling, and I have been competing over 10 years.”

Etko, who finished fifth in Dehli, added: “Scotland is my adopted home. This is where my family live, and where I see my future.

“My first impressions was always a warm welcome, even if it is a cold country! If it had not been for that, I probably would not have stayed.”

Etko, who missed out on fighting at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow because he could not get international clearance in time, also paid tribute to his family back in Moldova.

“I learned good things from my parents, who were teachers, to be honest and work hard, those things have been ingrained in me,” he said.

“It is much like Scotland, with a small population, but really warm people who will welcome anyone.

“It was tough growing up, of course. I had aspirations and vision of being an Olympian, and I could not see myself achieving those things in Moldova, so I had to make a decision, pack my bag and move on.

“Life was too harsh, and if you are not a fortunate athlete to have a coach who can look after you and push you, if you are second, third or fourth, there is no system like we have in Britain, and Scotland.”