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Silence falls inside The Hydro to allow Purvis to raise the roof by winning gold

THE stage could not have been more perfectly set as Daniel Purvis stepped up to compete for his final chance at Commonwealth Games gold in Glasgow.

Daniel Purvis will cherish his Commonwealth gold just as much as his Olympic bronze. Picture: Julie Howden
Daniel Purvis will cherish his Commonwealth gold just as much as his Olympic bronze. Picture: Julie Howden

Blaring from the speakers at The Hydro was the thudding beat of Lose Yourself by the rapper Eminem: "If you had one shot or one opportunity/to seize everything you ever wanted/one moment/would you capture it or just let it slip?"

Then silence fell around the arena. You could have heard a pin drop as the 23-year-old began his parallel bars routine, the crowd holding their breath in unison.

When the chips were down, kept his nerve to produce a captivating performance and claim Scotland's second gymnastics gold of the Games. He scored 15.533 to push English duo Nile Wilson and Max Whitlock, who scored 15.433 and 15.066 respectively, into second and third.

His achievement adds to the bronze on rings and team silver Purvis had won already, following on from the success of compatriot Daniel Keatings, who took gold on the pommel horse on Thursday. It also takes the final medal tally for Scotland's gymnastics contingent during these Games to five.

Southport-based Purvis, who competes for Scotland on account of his mother Denise hailing from Dundee, looked one part thrilled, two parts shell-shocked as his winning score flashed up.

"I'm over the moon," he said. "Coming in today I didn't expect to get gold - I thought just to get another medal in front of a home crowd would be fantastic."

Purvis insisted the medal meant every bit as much to him as the team Olympic bronze he took at London 2012. "I'm so proud to do it for my family," he said. "To finish off with a gold medal has been just as fantastic as the Olympics."

As the curtain fell on five days of spectacular artistic gymnastics competition, Purvis acknowledged that he was still pinching himself at leaving Glasgow with a medal of every colour. "Coming into the Games I wouldn't have expected gold, silver and bronze," he said. "The team medal has been the most important thing."

Kudos must go to Scotland's youngest member of the men's gymnastics team and rising star, Frank Baines. Less than a year ago the 19-year-old was lying in a hospital bed with four fractured vertebrae in his neck and back. Yesterday, he came within a whisker of two bronze medals, before being pushed down into fourth spot on both parallel bars and high bar.

One of the prodigious talents to come out of British Gymnastics in recent years, Baines suffered a training accident last August in which he became disorientated in the air as he dismounted from the high bar and land on his head.

Afterwards doctors told him he had a lucky escape as another gymnast, who suffered a similar accident a decade earlier, never walked again. The 2012 European junior all-around champion was in a back brace for six weeks before spending a further eight months battling to regain full fitness to compete in Glasgow.

The Liverpool-born gymnast, who has a Scottish father and English mother, was in the position of having both nations vying for his allegiance but plumped firmly for the ranks of Team Scotland.

While disappointed at missing out on an individual medal, Baines was able to draw on the positives. "The lads all did great routines so I can't really complain," he said. "It didn't go as I hoped but it's an experience for the future."

The young man described by Scotland's head coach, Paul Hall, as "the most stylish gymnast I've seen" shook his head when asked whether he could have envisaged being a team silver medallist for Scotland as began the road to recovery 11 months ago.

"Probably not," he said. "I couldn't have imagined doing a high bar dismount in front of all of these people that's for sure, but I did it."

There was dejection, though, for Scotland's Keatings after he slipped during one of his release and catch moves on high bar to come crashing to the mat. The 24-year-old recovered to complete the routine strongly, but finished the day in sixth. With a gold medal already safely in his room back at the Athletes' Village, Keatings said it did soften the blow a little.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed not to have done a clean routine but I've had a really good Games and happy with the gold on Thursday," he said.

Wilson and Kristian Thomas made it a one-two for England on high bar with 14.966 apiece, the former edging the gold with a higher execution score. Canada's Kevin Lytwyn took bronze with 14.866.

Scott Morgan of Canada won the men's vault final with 14.733, while England's Thomas was second scoring 14.499 and Wah Toon Hoe from Singapore third on 14.195. Baines finished fifth and Adam Cox, as he bowed out of his gymnastics career, was seventh.

For Cox, who captained the silver medal winning Scottish team, these Games have provided a fairytale ending after he missed out on in Delhi four years ago.

The 27-year-old from Livingston walked away on the eve of the 2010 Commonwealth Games when his coach, Tan Jia En, was made redundant as they prepared to depart for Delhi. He re-emerged from retirement in late 2012 with the goal of gaining closure in terms of his truncated sporting career.

"It was everything I hoped it would be, to walk away with a historic team silver medal," he said. "It's been an honour to be part of this team."

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