UNFLUSTERED, perfectly modest, Lachie Stewart took things in his stride after his thrilling triumph in the 10,000 metres at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.

“I don’t really feel any different”, he told Herald sportswriter Ron Marshall as he relaxed in his quarters in the Games Village. “All I notice is that everybody wants to say ‘hello’ and the autograph-hunters are trailing about everywhere. I’m certainly no more tired than I would have been after a normal race”.

The final stretch of his win in the 10,000 can be viewed on YouTube. You see him just behind England’s Dick Taylor and Australia’s great running machine, Ron Clarke, the multiple world record holder and pre-race favourite. The three of them are in a group on their own.

With just over 200m to go Stewart eases past Taylor. Then, sizing up Clarke coming off the crown of the bend, he goes into overdrive up the home straight, eclipsing Clarke as he does so, giving him the briefest of glimpses over his shoulder. The crowd of 28,000 fans roar as he crosses the line. Within moments, someone gives him an outsize teddy bear to hold.

“I thought before the race I would get a medal but, to be honest, not the gold”, Stewart told the Herald. “When I found I was keeping contact with them, even after the pace hotted up [just after 5000 metres], I saw my chances of getting something better than a bronze growing.

“I was talking to Taylor after the race, and he had the very opposite feelings. As each of the last eight laps passed Taylor saw the gold slipping away from him -- he knew I had a faster finish -- and at the same time I could see first place coming my way”.

Stewart’s citation in the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame says that in winning that gold (“one of the most memorable moments in Scottish sport”), he took more than 20 seconds off his previous best. He won 13 Scottish titles in seven years and established numerous Scottish records at two miles, the 3,000 m steeplechase, six miles and 10 miles.

His 1970 win has lived on in the memory of countless people. “It is strange”, he said two years ago. “People in their 40s and 50s always come up to me to tell me that they watched it on television. I still get asked to talk about it, too”.

Five weeks before the Games, he had set the fastest time in the world, in the Scottish championships at Meadowbank.

With just two laps to go in the 10,000 Commonwealth race, “I said, ‘I could win this’. For some reason, I felt it was easy. I was so comfortable.

“With 100 metres to go, I just felt I was running on air. There was an elation. I knew I was going to win”.

Immediately after winning, he shook Clarke’s hand. “I told him, ‘I’m sorry to be the one who had to beat you. You have always been an idol of mine’.”

Read more: Herald Diary