The Olympics may be back in their natural home, but there will always be a little part of the Games that is forever Scottish. More than a century of sporting endeavour has produced a clutch of Scottish sporting heroes. Doug Gillon, who is in Athens reporting for The Herald, has covered nine summer Games and has been an assiduous student of the greatest sporting event of all. Here is his definitive list of the top 20 sporting Scots. The list is bound to cause argument, after all, what sporting list would not? But here are the tartan winners, from the first Scot to win an Olympics through an archetypal strongman, to the hero with a wooden heart.

1 Wyndham Halswelle


The first Scot to win an individual Olympic athletics title, but the controversial circumstances, with no other runner in the final, provoked a diplomatic incident. Yet his prodigy is confirmed by the fact that he is still the only British athlete ever to have won a complete set of gold, silver, and bronze medals excluding relays.

By the time Halswelle took the 1908 400m crown in London, he was a veteran of four Boer War battles and owner of silver and bronze from the previous Olympics.

Only four men lined up for the 400m final, three of them American. Halswelle had set an Olympic record of 48.4 in the semis, and Paul Pilgrim, who had beaten Halswelle for gold two years earlier, was already eliminated. There were no lanes on the three-lap-to-the-mile track, and the US trio conspired to block the Scot.

John Carpenter, a full second slower than Halswelle in his heat, blocked the Scot at the start of the 165-yard finish straight. Running diagonally, Carpenter forced his rival to within a foot of the concrete edge on the outside.

As The Glasgow Herald reported on July 24, 1908: ''Halswelle was the victim of very similar tactics in Athens [when beaten by Pilgrim] . . . and to prevent anything of that kind on this occasion, officials had been placed at the bends.'' They signalled a foul, and the finish judge [a Scot] broke the tape before Carpenter reached it. There was an hour's debate before ''400m NO RACE'' was chalked on a board.

Carpenter was disqualified and the two other Americans boycotted the rerun two days later. Halswelle felt winning in those circumstances would be unsporting, and declined to start. Officials of the ruling Amateur Athletics Association insisted. Halswelle duly ran round solo in 50.0 seconds.

Halswelle's gold remains the only Olympic one for a walk-over, and his reception was recorded as being ''especially warm''.

Halswelle's most prodigious domestic feat was a sweep of the Scottish 100, 220, 440 and 880 yards titles in one afternoon at Powderhall in 1906. This has never been equalled. He was promoted to captain in 1911 and was with the HLI first battalion in a trench at Neuve Chapelle when shot in the head by a sniper on March 31, 1915, he was 32.

This year Scottishathletics and the HLI plan to revive the tradition of an officer of the regiment presenting the Wyndham Halswelle Memorial Trophy to the leading 400m winner at the Scottish under-20 championships.

There is an exhibition in Halswelle's honour at the regimental museum in Glasgow's Sauchiehall Street. The whereabouts of his Olympic medals, however, is unknown.

2 Eric Liddell


Thanks to the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire, the 1924 Olympic 400m champion is among the best-known of any Scottish sports figure. Though much of the film was fiction, it did not alienate Liddell's widow, Florence, or his sister, Jenny Somerville.

The essential Liddell shone through - a man so dedicated to serving God and his fellow man that he turned his back on a nation's adulation and traded it for the privation of life as an itinerant missionary in China. Before World War II he had sent his pregnant wife to safety in Canada. She was expecting the third of their three daughters. He never lived to see her.

His subsequent life, before he died of a brain tumour shortly before the end of World War II in a Japanese internment camp in China, was even more worthy of a film than his athletics career.

Liddell was born in Tientsin, China, the son of missionaries, and played seven times on the wing for the Scottish rugby XV while at Edinburgh University, but he gave up to concentrate on his running.

He knew six months before the Olympics that the 100m at which he excelled was on a Sunday, and because of his convictions trained for the 200 and 400m. He did not learn the schedule on the boat to France. Sam Mussabini, professional coach of the Paris 100m winner, Harold Abrahams, was actually Liddell's mentor, and was introduced to Abrahams by Liddell, a fact which like many others was ''adjusted'' in celluloid. He did, however, preach a sermon at the Church of Scotland in Paris on the day of the 100m heats.

Liddell won bronze in the 200m behind the American winner, Jackson Scholz, and set an Olympic record of 47.6 as he won his gold by some six metres. ''The secret of my success over the 400m is that I run the first 200m as hard as I can,'' he said. ''Then, for the second 200m, with God's help, I run faster.''

A year after the Olympics he went to China as a missionary. He frequently risked his life, hiding money in bread roles as he smuggled it for missionary work; tending typhoid victims; and nursing victims of conflict between the Japanese and Chinese before he was interned at Weifang.

Despite having declined Olympic selection on sabbatarian grounds, he refereed football in the camp on Sundays. He had graduated with a BSc in pure science, and wrote a chemistry book for children.

Some inmates were oil company executives, and very wealthy, easing their way through the war comfortably, with gin, whisky, and extra food smuggled in. Liddell shamed them into sharing.

When he died, his grave was marked with a plain wooden cross, his name written in boot polish. It was rediscovered decades later and a stone of Mull granite was commissioned by Edinburgh University and erected in 1991.

His Paris medals were handed into the custody of his old alma mater, by his daughter, Mrs Patricia Russell.

3 Dick McTaggart


won lightweight gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics, and received the coveted Val Barker Trophy for the most stylish boxer over all weights in the Games. A crowd of 20,000 was at Dens Park to see corporal McTaggart parade it on returning to his native Dundee.

He won 610 of 634 amateur fights, and was the first British boxer to compete at three Olympic Games (1956, 1960, 1964). He was narrowly beaten in the 1960 semi-finals by a Pole, Kazimierz Pazdzior, who went on to win gold. McTaggart took bronze. Four years later he was again eliminated by a Pole, Josef Grudzien, who also won the title.

McTaggart's trademarks were a crewcut and white boots. He was tall in his day for the division, a southpaw with a languid style and not a hefty puncher, but he had lightning reflexes and scored at will while rivals could barely lay a glove on him.

He also won Empire Games gold in Cardiff (1958), and the European title (1961).

The Dundonian was one of a family of 18, and resisted numerous offers to turn professional. He later confided his sight was so bad that he would never have passed the medical. He spent six years in the RAF and won three ABA titles as a lightweight (1956, 1958, and 1960) and two as a light welterweight (1963 and '65).

McTaggart worked in pest-control, or as the tabloids colourfully styled it ''rat-catcher'', but subsequently had a long career with Rolls Royce. He was awarded the MBE and was honorary director of coaching for Scottish boxing, working with several Commonwealth Games teams. He now lives in retirement in Ayrshire. Harry Carpenter, the BBC commentator rated him: ''the greatest amateur I ever saw''.

4 David Wilkie


was the first British male swimmer to win an Olympic title for 68 years when he took 200 metres breaststroke gold with a world record in 1976.

His time took three seconds off the world's best and it stood as a Scottish record until 2001, beaten by Ian Edmond, of Edinburgh.

He was again inside the world record at Montreal in the 100m breaststroke, but had to settle for silver behind John Hencken of the US.

Wilkie also won double Commonwealth gold in 1974, European gold, and world titles in 1973 and '75. He was first to wear his headcap and goggles together, a now standard combination.

Born in Ceylon, where his father was a tea planter, he was the only Scottish

swimmer to medal (bronze) at the 1970 Commonwealth Games. His first Olympics, in 1972, resulted in 200m silver. He was regarded then as a lazy trainer, but moved to Miami, and in 1976, when 12 of the 13 men's titles were won by Americans, Wilkie was the only exception.

At 49, he still does 40 lengths daily. A marine biology graduate, he founded his own company specialising in health supplements and now works quietly with a third world Unicef agency.

5 Allan Wells


won 1980 Olympic 100 metres gold and 200m silver in 1980 against all the odds in Moscow. The last white 100m champion when Afro-Caribbean dominance had already been established, he reached the peak of Olympus from a training base below Arthur's Seat in cold, windy Edinburgh. Tradition suggested only warm climates produced top sprinters, and he managed this while working as an engineer.

A former junior triple jump champion and long jumper, he came late to sprinting, courtesy of the Scottish professional school. This was based on sessions with a boxing speed ball and circuits in the garage of his home. He was an awesome physical specimen at his peak: ''Still am,'' he jokes.

He was coached by his wife, Margot, a national women's champion, and was then the oldest Olympic sprint champion, at 28. Dogged by injuries, he surrendered his title as Carl Lewis swept to the first of four golds in Los Angeles. He won Commonwealth gold and silver at 200 and 100m in 1978, and helped Scotland's 4 x 100m gold medal relay team in Edmonton to a British record. That time, 39.24, is still the Scottish best. His Scottish records (10.11 in the Moscow semi final, and 20.21 for 200m silver) also still stand.

Wells won gold at both 100 and 200m in the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealths (sharing with Mike McFarlane in the latter) but was not allowed to defend these in his home town in 1986. Bungling management would not accept his assurances that he would be fit. A week after the Games, wearing lycra cycling shorts, he proved his point at Gateshead, beating a field which included the Edinburgh 100m winner, the soon-to-be-disgraced Canadian, Ben Johnson.

6 Launceston Elliot


was one of Scotland's finest all-round sportsman - the very first British Olympic competitor, and Scotland and Great Britain's first Olympic gold medallist. He won the single-handed lift (now discontinued) at the 1896 Olympics, and was second in the two-handed event, lifting the same as the winner, Viggo Jensen of Denmark.

Elliot also placed fifth in Greco Roman wrestling, and fifth in climbing a 14-metre rope. He also ran in the opening round of the men's 100 metres, finishing fourth in the second heat. As the 100 was the first event of the Games, this made him the first British competitor of the Modern Olympics.

In pleading his case for Elliot's inclusion in the Scottish Sport Hall of Fame, strength events historian David Webster delivered extracts from Debrett's peerage which showed him to be in direct succession to the Earl of Minto. Hugh Elliot, later governor of Madras, was brother of the first earl, and Launceston's great-grandfather. His own father, Gilbert, was a magistrate in India.

The official report of the 1896 Olympics recounts of Launceston: ''This young gentleman attracted universal attention by his uncommon type of beauty. He was of imposing stature, tall, well-proportioned, his hair and complexion of surprising fairness.''

One newspaper told how, ''his handsome figure procured for him an offer of marriage from a highly-placed lady admirer.''

Elliot studied under the German lifting guru, Eugen Sandow, and in 1898 broke his coach's world record in single-handed lifting, right-hand clean and bent press, with 200lb.

Later he became a music hall strongman. His signature stunt was to hold a bar across his shoulders from which were suspended two bicycles and cyclists. Elliot would start turning, increasingly quickly, till bikes and riders were swung horizontal.

His Olympic medals were stolen, whereabouts unknown, but his certificates and documents have been preserved in Scotland, thanks to the efforts of his family.

When quizzed about nationality, his daughter, Nancy Maud replied: ''He was called Launceston, as he was conceived in Launceston, the capital of Tasmania. He was born in India, but he was Scottish to the bone.''

7 Rodney Pattison


Born in Campbeltown in 1943, is one of only two Scots to successfully defend an Olympic title, and the only one to have won medals in three successive Olympics, all in the ''Flying Dutchman'' a two-man, 20-foot dinghy. He took gold in 1968 and 1972, and silver in 1976. In Mexico '68 he and Iain MacDonald Smith came first five times and second once, the lowest score ever recorded in an Olympic regatta. In retaining gold, he won the first four races and was so far ahead he didn't sail the last in the series.

8 ian Stark


Scotland'S most prolific Olympic medallist, winning four silvers in five appearances in the three-day event from 1984-2000 (team 1984, individual and team '88, team 2000). His individual silver was on Sir Wattie in Seoul, in 1988 (owned by Sir Walter Scott's great-great-great grandaughter, Dame Jean Maxwell-Scott). During his career Stark broke a leg, both wrists, both ankles, and after six weeks in bed, incapable of moving, it was discovered he had a neck fracture. Now coach to the Brazilian team.

9 Arthur 'Archie' Robertson


The first of only six Scots to win Olympic athletics gold, and is the only one apart from Eric Liddell to set a world record in an Olympic track and field event. Contested three events at 1908 London Olympics: fifth in the five miles, silver in the 3200 metres steeplechase, and gold in the three-mile team race which Britain won ahead of the US and France.

Set a Scottish three-mile record at Windsor (14min 27.2sec) - not beaten by a Scot until 1949. Days later, at Ibrox, sliced 21 seconds from Scottish four-mile record, and this has survived for 45 years. At Stockholm's cycle track, he beat reigning world 5000 metres record-holder John Svanberg, taking more than 12 seconds from the world record with 15:01.2. 24 hours later, he missed the world one-hour best by just 228 yards. He covered 11 miles 849 yards, setting Scottish records en route at six miles and 10,000m (30:26.0 and 31:30.4).

10 Helen 'Elenor' Orr Gordon


competed in three Olympics (London, Helsinki, and Melbourne), from 1948 to 1956. In 1952 she won bronze in the 200 metres breaststroke, Britain's only swimming medallist. Went aged 16, with a chaperone, on the six-week voyage to the 1950 Empire Games in New Zealand and won breaststroke gold. Retained title four years later, adding gold in medley relay. Won 11 Scottish and five British titles. Trained at Hamilton baths where her father was a lifeguard.

11 Alister Allan


set a world record of 600 in the smallbore rifle [the perfect score] to win the world title, but was denied the chance of Olympic gold in Moscow when his sport was one of few to heed Margaret Thatcher's demand for a boycott. Four years later he won bronze, and in 1988, silver. Remains Scotland's most successful Commonwealth Games competitor. From 1974 to 1994 he won three gold, three silver and four bronze medals.

12 Bobby McGregor


The Falkirk Flyer' first represented Scotland aged 16. He set a world record for 110 yards of 53.6 seconds in 1964 and that year captained the British swimming team at the Tokyo Olympics. In 1966, in the space of five weeks, he won a Commonwealth silver and European gold. He then broke his own world best for 110 yards at the British Championships with 53.3. Retired from competitive swimming after 1968 Games.

13 Mike McIntyre


ALONG with crewman Bryn Vaile, McIntyre took the Star class sailing gold at the Seoul Olympic regatta, sailed off Pusan.

The Glasgow University graduate, a native of Helensburgh, helmed the yacht, and the pair finished fourth after six races. They needed to win the seventh and final race with the US leaders worse than fifth, and Brazil worse than fourth.

The Brazilians were eighth, while the American yacht lost its mast.

McIntyre and Vaile crossed the finishing line just two lengths clear of Australia in 30-knot winds.

McIntyre, who was

also a former international swimmer, had been European Finn champion, and

thrice British champion in that class before finishing seventh in it at the 1984 Olympics.

He was mainsheet trimmer on Harold Cudmore's 1986 America's Cup yacht.

14 Ellen King


broke the world record for the 220 yards breaststroke and equalled the world best in the 100m backstroke in 1927 and 1928. She reached the 100m backstroke final in 1924, and won two silver medals at the Amsterdam Olympics four years later (100m backstroke and relay). She contested the inaugural 1930 Empire Games in Canada, training in a 20-foot pool in a tarpaulin on the Atlantic crossing.

She also kept in shape with a boxing speed ball, the likes of which Allan Wells was still using half a century later. Won a silver and two bronzes in Canada, and was presented with a punch ball on her return home. She won all Scottish titles from 50 to 440 yards, and six British championships during her career. Continued to swim until after her 80th birthday.

15 Shirley Robertson


learned the ropes in a dinghy built in the garage of the family home in Menstrie, and learned to sail on Linlithgow Loch. First Scottish woman to win an individual Olympic gold. Won Europe dingy class in Sydney after having run up six-figure debt in her campaign for the 1996 Games, finishing fourth. Finished just two points from bronze in Atlanta.

16 Liz McColgan


denied 10,000 metres gold in 1988 by a devastating final lap burst from Olga Bondarenko. The Dundee woman was three seconds behind, taking silver.

She competed in two other Olympic Games, finishing fifth in Barcelona in 1992, and sixteenth in the marathon in 1996.

After her London marathon win that spring, McColgan was 3-1 favourite to win in Atlanta, but she was bitten by an insect two days before the race.

Glands swelled up, and she suffered an adverse reaction to antibiotics. Though she holds the Scottish record, she never did run as quick a marathon as the Atlanta winner, but her world 10,000m gold in Tokyo, in 1991, was one of the greatest endurance performances ever.

17 Alison Sheppard


Starting with Seoul in 1988, the Commonwealth 50 metres freestyle champion from Bearsden and Milngavie has been an ever-present in Britain's Olympic team. In Sydney, Sheppard was the only UK finalist. Won silver at 1998 Commonwealths. Took World Cup outright last year. Her fifth appearance in Athens will be a record for any swimmer.

18 George Cornet

water polo

From Inverness, the oldest member of the British water polo team which won gold in the 1908 and 1912 Olympics, and joins Rodney Pattison as the only Scot who has successfully defended an Olympic title. Born in 1877, he played as a back 17 times for Scotland between 1897 and 1912. He died aged 75 in 1952, having spent his working life with the Highland railway.

19 Johnny McGough


First Scottish 1500 metre man to reach an Olympic final, taking silver in 1906. Athletes then applied to be members of Britain's team, and McGough was one of 19 sent. As a postman, one is intruiged by how he funded the trip and got time off.

A member of Bellahouston Harriers, McGough at one time held all Scottish native records from 1000 yards to four miles, and won the mile six years in succession from 1902.

In 1906, McGough set a Scottish mile record of 4:21.6.

20 Hera


hera was the yacht

owned and sailed by Sir Thomas Glen-Coats of J&P Coats, the Paisley spinning dynasty.

It won the only Olympic event ever staged in Scotland with a crew of 10, all Scots from the Royal Clyde yacht Club, all of whom won a gold medal.

The 1908 London Olympic regatta was held at Cowes, but the only two 12-metre contestants were the Clyde yacht and her Mersey rival, Mouchette.

A coin was tossed to decide the venue, since there was no point in both yachts going to Cowes. Hera won the three-race series 2-0.

Eton-educated Glen-Coats played no part in the family business. Hugely wealthy, he enjoyed a life of leisure, and died aged 75.

The oldest surviving member of the crew, varnish merchant John Aspin, from Glasgow, died aged 82, in 1960.