Our Smiling Future

20th Commonwealth Games - Day 4: Swimming

If the referendum debate is one giant selfie – yesterday Erraid Davies gave us another unlikely insight, another unlikely star.

If township opera singer Pumeza Matshikiza warmed hearts on the opening night, Erraid Davies from Shetland broke them with a performance and a reaction that epitomised courageous honest endeavour, Scotland at its best.

Watch it here.

Talk about “punching above your weight”? At only 13, Erraid was competing against competitors that were older, stronger, more experienced and she took a medal. She started badly and fought back showing courage as well as huge skill and technique.

Well done her. In fact the whole Commonwealth Games is turning into a massive cultural celebration of local Glaswegian pride, sporting achievement and the best we can be. It’s more bigheart than braveheart, and all the better for it.

Glasgow is shining, this is Scotland playing soft-power at it’s best. There’s a sharp contrast from the over-paid cynical and tense World Cup, full of fouls and broken dreams.

Forget the weirdly jaundiced media coverage and just enjoy it. Writing in the Scotsman, Lesley Riddoch hits the sweet spot:

Scots are holding our heads a wee bit higher this week. Scottish success has begun to seem normal and consistent.

I’d guess the same thought has been working its way around five and a half million brains since competition began in earnest – can this really be us? The folk who couldn’t build a parliament or a tram line on budget or on time; the people famed for deep-fried Mars Bars and unhealthy eating; the nation renowned for whisky, not footie? Is this really us – winners? With the added bonus of an equally winning, underdog-supporting crowd as loyal, enthusiastic and occasionally barking as the famed Tartan Army? It’s heady stuff – and no matter what happens in the remaining days, the success of last week allows some gloomy and self-restricting narratives about Scottishness to be rewritten.

Re-writing ourselves. It’s great to see. Who could guess that one of the unexpected authors would be a 13 year old girl from Shetland, giggling into a bright future as a country beamed back at her?

Erraid’s named after an island of lighthouse keepers. Another beacon has emerged blinking into the 21st C.

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  1. Morag says:

    And it’s so sad that all some people can do with a story like this is hate.


  2. You can see how much the international competitors are enjoying the Games and the atmosphere generated by the crowds. There seems to be a tremendous spirit and sense of occasion. You can’t buy that as it really comes from the enthusiasm and generosity of the spectators.

  3. TWB says:

    It seriously worries me or baffles me – Scotland’s inconfidence – of course you are/it’s bloody brilliant – and can stand against the best. I’ve never doubted. Please don’t forget the diaspora of Scots around the world who see Scotland, not through the lens of a misty beer glass. It’s clear dead brilliant. Stop, think and belong, no matter where you are. Scotland can!

  4. Auld Rock says:

    Did you hear the English commentators surprise that Scottish/Glasgow crowds cheered on the English athletes. You could hear them say, “this is not in the script, they’re supposed to hate us”. Only booing was at the semi-finals of the bowls when an English fan heckled the Scottish bowler just before he sent down an ace to sink England, what a riposte. As for our lass from Shetland she did do well full of guts and determination, well Erraid.

    Auld Rock

  5. Paddy S Hogg says:

    Erraid is a jewel. My heart went out to her for her courage. Always the result of hard work, success in sport is never easy, so well done you wee talented darling and fellow Scot. So proud of you and the work you, mum and dad have done. It is always team work. And now we need our politicians to help with better funding support for athletes and better support for coaches. For example, Mark Dry got bronze in the hammer. But it was the last medal winner in throws who helped him there – yes, Chris Black, the Olympic hammer thrower added 20 metres to Mark’s throwing. Chris has never got the recognition he deserves as Scotland’s greatest thrower. He broke a world record in hammer when 52 years old and believe it or not had very little coaching to get him to the Olympics and won two medals for Scotland at the Commonwealth games in 1978 and 1982. The legacy we need is support for athletes from 12 onwards – someone like Chris to spot the talent young. The key area to support athletes is from school up to Commonwealth standards, that is from 16 through to their early 20’s. So many athletes fall out of competing from school onwards because of lack of support. All the talk of sports hubs is RUBBISH stats from council development officers who add up numbers; NOT quality. Too many Olympic golds were won by well off middle class athletes who went to private school. Where there is a will there MUST be a way. Congrats to all our medal winners and the great crowds who have been a credit to a nation.

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