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Wallace lives up to the name by becoming a national hero

'For Freedom" was the cry as the spirit of one of Scotland's greatest heroes was invoked by a modern one at Tollcross last night, with Daniel Wallace winning a third gold medal for the home team in the pool.

Daniel Wallace propels himself to gold in the 400 metres individual medley, having set a Games record in the semi-final. Picture: Nick Ponty
Daniel Wallace propels himself to gold in the 400 metres individual medley, having set a Games record in the semi-final. Picture: Nick Ponty

The Scottish government may have announced an embargo on politicking during these Games but, just weeks after he was almost thrown off the team, there was no mistaking the sentiments being expressed by the 21-year-old who, like his most celebrated clansman, has had his brushes with authority.

His moment as an outlaw was perhaps not quite as romantic as the way William Wallace was portrayed in the movie Braveheart since it involved being arrested for urinating on a police car in the United States, where Daniel Wallace is based.

However, the swimmer, who had set a new Games record with his time of 4 minutes 11.004 seconds in the morning's semi-final, knew this was his chance to make amends. He seized it in style, showing courage and character to time his challenge perfectly and snatch victory in the men's 400 metres individual medley.

"It happened in the States and we kind of wanted it to stay over there," he said of his faux pas. "When I got back here it was all behind me and no matter what my performance tonight has really overshadowed everything that's happened in the last few years. This is what I'll be remembered for and not my past mistakes."

He admitted that there had been a real threat to his involvement in this competition as a result of the misdemeanour. "I got to the point in my life where I really had to re-evaluate which path I wanted to take and I think I chose the right one. It's ended in a gold medal for me and the whole of Scotland, so I'm very happy with that," said Wallace.

"I was kind of living the life of a rock star but still trying to perform in the pool and you can't do both. It's all about moderation. I think I've learned from those experiences and it's starting to pay off now."

His emotions spilled over in that golden moment after Wallace overtook long-time leader Sebastien Rousseau on the final leg, having been second from last after the third of the eight lengths over which they raced. "I just yelled at the top of my lungs 'For freedom', because being here with the home crowd has really brought out the Braveheart and the Scot inside of me," he explained. "I just thought I'd soak up the moment.

"I watched it [Braveheart] just last week to get ready for this. It's such a Scottish thing and it warms my heart seeing stuff like this, I thought I'd soak it up and have a bit of fun."

He has never checked whether there is a direct line of succession to William Wallace, but observed with a grin: "I'm sure there's a little bit of Wallace in everyone."

Wallace was not the only Scot who demonstrated real character. Michael Jamieson showed his class and his leadership when his first instinct on missing out on the final of the 100m breaststroke was to acknowledge the achievement of his younger Scotland team-mates, Ross Murdoch and Craig Benson, who did make progress.

"I'm delighted for Craig because he's had a tough time of it since breaking through and making the Olympic team," said Jamieson. "He was almost at his best tonight and it is good to have two Scots in the final."

Murdoch charged from behind at the turn to pass South African Cameron van der Burgh in the first of the 100m breaststroke semi-finals, with Benson finishing third and Jamieson in fifth.

The impact a finals night crowd can have on the home swimmers had been demonstrated early on when one of the first Scots in the pool, Corrie Scott, became the only finalist in the 50m breaststroke final to improve on her qualifying time as she also claimed a bronze medal. Having registered only the fourth fastest time of 30.79 seconds to the final alongside compatriots Kathryn Johnstone and Andrea Strachan, Bellshill-born Scott, who turns 21 next month, surprised herself as she knocked four hundredths of a second off to finish behind Australia's Leiston Pickett and Jamaica's Alia Atkinson. "Coming into this meet I was training so hard and everything was going so well I knew I could go fast," she said.

The pattern continued as teenage Stirling University student Sian Harkin squeezed a hundredth of a second off her first-round time to claim the eighth place in the 50m freestyle final.

Robbie Renwick was another who managed to improve on his morning swim but it was nowhere near quick enough on a night when even his British record time of 1 minute 45.99 seconds - set five years ago - would not have been enough to enable him to defend his 200m freestyle title successfully.

The race was dominated by the Australians from the off, Thomas Fraser-Holmes claiming gold with a time of 1:45.08, almost half a second faster than team-mate Cameron McEvoy, with Calum Jarvis claiming the bronze for Wales.

The night ended with further disappointment for Renwick when he and his 4x100m freestyle team-mates finished just outside the medals.

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