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Brian Samson, sportscotland
"I am convinced this performance can be improved upon"
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Craig MacLean, silver medal winning cyclist
"Getting the medal was incredible"
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Ian Mackie
on his Olympic disappointment
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Morag Kinniburgh reports
"The medals shone as brightly as the smiles"
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Tuesday, 3 October, 2000, 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK
Olympic heroes return home
Shirley Robertson on her way to an historic gold
Shirley Robertson on her way to an historic gold
By BBC Sport Online's Alasdair Lamont

Scotland's Olympians have begun to arrive back in the country after their most successful Olympics since the 1912 Games in Stockholm.

Three golds and six silvers far surpassed the expectations of even the most optimistic commentators and created new sporting heroes for the Scottish public.

That the nine medallists came from disciplines which are, by and large, considered as minority sports in their homeland makes them all the more remarkable.

Only the absence of any athletics medals - even the gold of modern pentathlete Stephanie Cook featured only one track event - raises any cause for concern in an otherwise positive Olympics.

Cook crosses the line for the gold medal
Cook crosses the line for the gold medal
A dismal performance by Scots competitors in Atlanta in 1996 - one bronze medal was their total haul - did not auger well for the hopes of the smaller contingent travelling to Sydney.

But thrilling displays by Shirley Robertson in sailing, Cook in the modern pentathlon and Chris Hoy and Craig MacLean in cycling paved the way for an historic haul of medals.

Robertson's, in particular, was an outstanding effort, leading the way from the off in sailing's Europe class to secure the first individual Olympic gold medal by a Scotswoman.

A tremendous show of courage in the final race saw the Dundonian move up from fifth place to third to ensure she finished in top place overall.

MacLean and Hoy just missed out on gold in the cycling team sprint - losing out narrowly to France in the final despite breaking the British record twice along the way.

"Getting the medal was incredible. I was nervous during the day, but once I was on the track, I knew it was going to be alright," said MacLean on arrival back in Edinburgh.

Mark Covell sails to silver
Mark Covell sails to silver
Ian Stark proved himself to be Scotland's very own answer to Steve Redgrave with a fourth Olympic medal - a silver as part of the equestrian three-day event team.

Rowers Andrew Lindsay, Gillian Lindsay and Katherine Grainger played a huge part in Great Britain's best-ever haul in a Games regatta.

Lindsay helped the men's eight to a first gold in the event since 1912, while the Scots female duo of Lindsay and Grainger formed part of the women's quadruple squalls which took a surprise silver.

While the successes of pentathlete Cook and Mark Covell in the sailing silver class have been officially recorded as Scottish victories, the truth is that their careers have been based wholly outwith Scotland.

Disappointments

Both were born north-of-the-border, but moved south long before an Olympic appearance beckoned.

While the vast majority of media coverage as concentrated on the positive aspects of Scotland's and Great Britain's performance at the Games, there were disappointments.

None more so from a Scottish point of view than that of World judo champion Graeme Randall who was sent packing in the second preliminary round after being heavily tipped to take gold.

Allison Curbishley suffered disappointment
Allison Curbishley suffered disappointment
Pauline Stott, the first Scottish captain of a GB Olympic hockey team, could not inspire her team to a medal and signalled her intention to retire after the games.

While expectations were not high on the athletics front with only three Scots in Sydney, the showing was unimpressive.

Allison Curbishley got no further than the second round of the 400m while Sinead Dudgeon crashed out in the first round of the 400m hurdles.

Ian Mackie, in Sydney as part of the 4x100m relay, suffered even greater disappointment, missing out on selection for the final team of six, causing him to level accusations of anti-Scottish bias at the selection committee.

Strong foundations

Nevertheless, with increased Lottery funding not expected to take effect for a few years yet, the hope is that Scotland will continue to prosper where they have already shown signs of promise.

Brian Samson, director of sports development at sportscotland, believes the foundations are now in place in Scotland to allow young sportsmen and women to reach the top in their chosen events.

"We've invested in the athletes and the coaches through our Lottery funding which has enabled them to get on with the business of preparing and getting their performance levels up," said Samson.

"The second thing is good planning - what we have now got is a good focus through our Scottish Institute of Sport and our area institute network which is all just coming on stream.

"I think that will lead us down the road to even greater results for the next Commonwealth Games in Manchester and the Olympics in Athens."

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See also:

03 Oct 00 |  Photo Gallery
Scotland's Olympic heroes - in pictures
02 Oct 00 |  Scotland
Cook has all the right ingredients
29 Sep 00 |  Rowing and Water Sports
Robertson sails to gold
25 Sep 00 |  Scotland
Medal trio share their delight
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