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A golden time for sport, for Glasgow and for Scotland

THE gold rush has continued in Glasgow as the Commonwealth Games draw to a close, with Team Scotland winning two gold medals and ­passing the 50-medal mark.

The success came as Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the feelgood factor left in the wake of the Games would boost national confidence "not only in Glasgow, but across the country."

Looking ahead to the final stretch of the referendum campaign, Sturgeon added: "I think there is a very significant momentum behind the Yes campaign and I feel it everywhere I go in the country.

"The momentum is with us and as we come out of the Commonwealth Games at the weekend that is us into the final strait of the campaign and that momentum will be visible."

At the Games, it was a knockout day for boxers Charlie Flynn and Josh Taylor, whose golds took the Team Scotland total to 51 yesterday afternoon.

They were followed by a bronze-medal success in mixed doubles badminton for Imogen Bankier and Robert Blair at the end of the penultimate day.

And Kirsty Gilmour claimed silver in the women's badminton singles today - taking the medal tally to 53.

The boxing successes at the Hydro arena took the host nation's gold medal tally to 19 and a further 15 silvers and 19 bronzes have helped to ensure the best-ever Games for Scotland, surpassing the total of 33 in Edinburgh in 1986.

First Minister Alex Salmond congratulated the two boxers and Team Scotland, while Sports Secretary Shona Robison said: "The efforts from everyone in Team Scotland - athletes, coaches and support staff - have been superb.

"The brave efforts and tremendous skills shown from Charlie Flynn and Josh Taylor typified the spirit and commitment of the whole team.

"The people of Scotland and their enthusiastic backing for all of the competing athletes has been a highlight of the Games."

Mike Whittingham, performance director at the sportscotland institute of sport, praised the boxers.

"They fought fantastically in front of an ecstatic home crowd, and their success, coupled with the bronze medals won by team-mates Reece McFadden and Stephen Lavelle, means it has been a successful Games for Scotland's boxers," he said.

Badminton Scotland chief executive Anne Smillie said she was delighted for Blair and Bankier. "They have worked so hard for this," she said.

VisitScotland said the tourism industry will be one of the biggest winners of the Games, with hotels and restaurants enjoying some of the busiest days on record.

Chairman Mike Cantlay said: "Glasgow has delivered one of the best-ever Commonwealth Games.

"Over the past 10 days, there has been an incredible buzz in Glasgow - the city is packed, the venues are exceptional and the hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes are enjoying one of their busiest summers. But it's the people that will help ensure Glasgow benefits long after the Games end.

"It is the people of Glasgow that visitors, athletes and the media are talking about, and it will be their warmth, passion and enthusiasm that is remembered."

Ryan James, chairman of Glasgow Restaurant Association, said: "Glasgow has proved to be a revelation to so many visitors who have come here for the Games ... This is Glasgow's time to shine."

Usain Bolt, speaking after he led Jamaica into the 400m relay final, again dismissed reports that he denigrated the Games.

"It was wonderful, just like the London Olympics," he said. "The crowd is great."

Bolt remained in the stadium for over an hour after his race, signing autographs and posing for selfies with fans.

Meanwhile, the head of Sierra Leone's Commonwealth Games team said discussions are under way over the athletes' return home, in light of the outbreak of the deadly ebola virus in the country.

Some athletes do not want to return to their home country, where a public health emergency has been declared, according to Unisa Deen Kargbo, the team's chef de mission.

Some 219 people have died in the country from a total of 454 cases of ebola. But he also stressed he had a mandate to return the athletes on August 5.

Sierra Leone cyclist Mohamed Tholley, who was thought to have disappeared after failing to turn up to his event, is no longer missing.

The Glasgow 2014 organisers yesterday said there was no athlete currently in isolation or under observation due to a suspected case of the virus.

Kargbo said: "Athletes have come to me and said they don't want to return because of the ebola situation.

"There have been discussions with back home to see what the final decision will be on that."

Asked if the athletes could stay on in the UK, he said: "The UK Government will have to decide if that's an option, but I don't know."

He added that the situation was a "bit up in the air".

Glasgow 2014 communications director Jackie Brock-Doyle was asked if the athletes would be able to stay on at the Athletes' Village.

But she said the village would be decommissioned on Thursday and would be a building site "within a matter of hours".

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