Kirkcaldy’s Kathleen wins European 100 metres final

Kathleen Dawson’s mental and physical gifts faced the stiffest examination at the European Swimming Championships in Budapest on Friday night. Both robustly passed. With honours and distinction.
Kathleen DawsonKathleen Dawson
Kathleen Dawson

The 23-year-old from Kirkcaldy was victorious in the women’s 100 metres backstroke final, not once but twice. Triumphant in the initial staging of the race in a championship and Scottish record of 58.18 seconds, the result was rendered void when it was adjudged there had been a malfunction to the starting equipment in the lane of Sweden’s Louise Hansson.

"That’s the most painful race I’ve done so far,” conceded Dawson, who was just shy of surpassing Gemma Spofforth’s European record of 58.12. Excavating her reserves and with her coach Steve Tigg preaching calm, she fired an effective warning shot towards her Olympic rivals by irrevocably securing her first major title, clocking 58.49 secs second time around.

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“I was ecstatic when I won the first one in 58.1,” she revealed. “I was halfway through my swim down when I was told we’d have to re-race it. I was disappointed in the moment. I dropped my hands and went down to my knees. But Steve straight away said: ‘come on, you did this last night.’ And sure enough, I was able to go in, go through the process … and I’m so impressed with myself.”

It is unclear if even her Scottish record will now count. Gold soothed any pain. “The championship record got taken away from me,” she affirmed. “But as soon as I had that next chance to be able to get that gold again, I knew that I was going to be number one and stood on top of the podium.”

Her training partner at Stirling University Cassie Wild was fifth on both editions of this unusual denouement.

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Form now does not, of course, guarantee Dawson a medal in Tokyo. It is likely the Fifer will need to bust below 57 seconds to stand on the podium on July 27. Now with two golds and a silver this week, she senses her trajectory has not reached its potential apex.

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“I’m not exactly tapered coming in. I rested a wee bit. Hopefully in the next taper going into the Olympics, it will sharpen it all up.”

Molly Renshaw added to a fine night for the British women in the 200m breaststroke final with victory in 2:21.34. And then Lucy Hope all but guaranteed she will be among the late additions to the UK’s Olympic squad when the Borderer linked up with Tam van Selm, Holly Hibbott Freya Anderson to triumph in the women’s 4x200 freestyle relay in 7:53.15.

It delivered a second gold for the 23-year-old following her Monday win in the 4x100, with Scottish prospect Emma Russell also acquiring a medal for her role in the morning heats.

For the third time in these championships, Duncan Scott was parading silver with the 24-year-old ceding his European 200m freestyle crown to Martin Malyutin. The Scotsman, still ranked number one in the world this year, led off the last turn but saw the Russian sizzle with a championship record of 1:44.79. Scott fended off compatriot Tom Dean for second.

World record holder Adam Peaty was quickest into Saturday night’s 50m breaststroke final after Ross Murdoch exited in the heats.