Commonwealth Games: Duncan Scott qualifies fastest for 200m final

By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland on the Gold Coast
Duncan Scott
Duncan Scott will take on some of the world's best in the final of the 200m freestyle
2018 Commonwealth Games
Venue: Gold Coast, Australia Date: 4-15 April
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, Red Button, Connected TVs, BBC Sport website and mobile app.

Scotland's Duncan Scott was the fastest qualifier for what should be a tumultuous 200m freestyle final at the Aquatic Centre later this morning.

Scott, a double Olympic medallist in the relays at Rio 2016, will line-up against a star-studded field including the Australian Mack Horton, the current 400m freestyle Olympic champion, his countryman Kyle Chalmers, the 100m freestyle Olympic champion and the great South African, Chad le Clos, who has won 12 Commonwealth Games and four Olympic medals.

Le Clos won silver in the 200m freestyle in Rio and in the coming days he is bidding to become the most decorated Commonwealth Games athlete in history.

Stephen Milne also made the final for Scotland with Craig McLean narrowly missing out despite setting the fastest time of his life. "I want to give a special mention to Craig," said Scott. "He's just set a massive lifetime best. He's my training partner and he's done brilliantly."

Scott was calmness personified in setting the quickest time, as if born for the big stage. "It's going to be competitive. I'm really going to enjoy the head-to-head."

Elsewhere, Ross Murdoch returned to the pool after his silver in the 200m breaststroke the night before. Murdoch, swimming in the same heat as Adam Peaty, eased into the semi-finals of the 100m breaststroke and was joined there by Craig Benson and Calum Tait.

Stephen Milne
Scotland's Stephen Milne reached the final of the 200m freestyle

Murdoch, as ever, had some interesting things to say after his race. "It's definitely going to get a lot faster in the semi-finals. Adam and James Wilby (his conqueror on Thursday) are putting down some marks. There's a lot of class out there.

"I feel lucky to be here, I feel lucky to be putting on the Scotland hat. I might not get another chance to do it after these Games. You never know what's going to happen, do you? There's lots of good talent coming through. Archie Woodburn (the Warrender swimmer) is going really well at the minute. He's a young guy who's definitely snipping at the heels of me, Craig (Benson) and (Calum) Tait. I mean, four years before Glasgow, who was I? I'm just living in the moment because it can all be taken off you in seconds."

Lucy Hope progressed to the semi-final in the 50m freestyle as did Kathleen Dawson and Cassie Wild in the 100m backstroke. News came through in early morning that Dan Wallace had chosen not to defend the 400m Individual Medley title he won in Glasgow four years ago in order to concentrate on other events.

Mark Szaranek moved comfortably into the final of the 400m IM and has to be seen as a prime gold medal prospect for Scotland this morning. Toni Shaw will race in the final of S9 100m backstroke, the 14-year-old being the youngest member of the Scottish team. She was beaming afterwards. "Loving it," she said. "I'm just loving every second."

The final race of the morning session was the semi-finals of the 4x100m relay and Scotland had no trouble making this morning's final, finishing behind the supremely powerful Australians but ahead of New Zealand and England.

The English will deploy different personnel in the final, bringing in some of the heavy hitters in their squad. In qualifying, Scotland's boys were Kieran McGuckin, Craig McLean, Scott McLay and Dan Wallace, but Duncan Scott will surely come in for the final. Jack Thorpe may do likewise.

The narrative before Thursday was that it could be a golden day with Hannah Miley and Murdoch, but it never transpired. The attention now shifts on, principally, to Scott. If he takes gold in that company it will be a sensation.

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