STROKE OF GOOD FOR­TUNE

Re­tir­ing Wal­lace hopes hero Scott will cash in on swim­ming ca­reer

Scottish Daily Mail - - Commonwealth Games - JOHN GREECHAN

For him to do it with Team Scot­land gives oth­ers hope

WHEN Dan Wal­lace first took the de­ci­sion to step away from in­ter­na­tional swim­ming, he might have an­tic­i­pated leav­ing be­hind some­thing of a hole in Team Scot­land’s aquatic ar­mada. He could not be hap­pier to be proven wrong.

As Wal­lace stands down with a haul of one Olympic, one World Cham­pi­onship and just the five Com­mon­wealth Games medals to show for his ef­forts, he has al­ready handed over the mantle to Dun­can Scott.

And he be­lieves that the young Scot can one day take his place along­side the great one-man medal ma­chines of his sport — with all the fi­nan­cial re­wards that would bring.

Wal­lace, one of the faces of Glas­gow 2014, con­firmed yes­ter­day that he is walk­ing away from com­pet­i­tive swim­ming at the age of 24. With a de­gree in sports man­age­ment, he’s not go­ing to wan­der far from his first love.

Watch­ing Scott, who leaves these Games with six medals to his name, has given him a par­tic­u­lar buzz.

‘Dun­can is an im­mensely ta­lented guy,’ said Wal­lace, who could hardly ig­nore the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween their re­spec­tive sit­u­a­tions, one Games apart.

‘I was al­most in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion four years ago. But he’s that one step ahead of where I was. What he’s done here broad­ens the va­ri­ety of things that he can do.

‘Four years ago, I thought I could win three medals, whereas he’s got that lit­tle bit ex­tra where he’s think­ing: “I can win six-plus medals …” which is just a whole other ball game.

‘I never had any­one in my team who I thought could achieve a thing like that. For him to be able to do that, it shows that other ath­letes, other swim­mers can go be­yond what the norm is.

‘For him to do it for Team Scot­land is just great be­cause it gives peo­ple hope.

‘He’s still liv­ing and train­ing about 30 min­utes from where he grew up, so it’s good for Scot­tish sport to show we’ve got that cal­i­bre of ath­lete on our doorstep.

‘I’m sure we’ve got a hun­dred Dun­can Scotts kick­ing about, we just need to find them — and we need them to be­lieve in them­selves.’

Wal­lace hasn’t al­ways cov­ered him­self in glory, of course. A con­vic­tion for drink driv­ing last year could have cost him his place at these Games, while in 2014 he was ar­rested in Florida — where he was at­tend­ing the state univer­sity — for uri­nat­ing on a po­lice car.

In the pool, at least, he has be­come a role model for many young swim­mers, as ev­i­denced by the mes­sages of sup­port he has re­ceived since an­nounc­ing his re­tire­ment.

‘That was never a goal for me. I didn’t start the sport be­cause I wanted to in­spire peo­ple, I started it be­cause I en­joyed it,’ he said.

‘But, along the way, you start to re­alise you’re play­ing a role. It’s amaz­ing to have been able to do that — and Dun­can is do­ing a great job of it now.

‘He’s never put a foot out of step and it would be great to show that, through hard work, you can make a ca­reer.

‘I’d love to see him do re­ally well fi­nan­cially off the back of this, for later in life. Swim­ming’s not a long-term thing — I’m 25 and I’m re­tir­ing — so it would be amaz­ing for Dun­can to re­tire at 30 and have it all set af­ter that. The work he’s put in de­serves that. It’s hard in Scot­land to set up a ca­reer where you can then live off the back of it.

‘Ryan Lochte is set, Michael Phelps is set, so why can’t Dun­can be set? If kids can see a 20-year-old mak­ing a liv­ing through sport, it’s go­ing to be more ap­peal­ing for them.’

Wal­lace, who picked up a cou­ple of re­lay bronzes here, is adamant that he’s look­ing for­ward to a sec­ond ca­reer post-swim­ming.

He added: ‘I made the de­ci­sion to stop af­ter this meet about three months ago. I didn’t want to leave it un­til my last swim be­cause then you base the de­ci­sion on emo­tion.

‘In the last few years I have achieved ev­ery­thing I wanted to achieve.

‘Phys­i­cally, I think I could go for an­other cou­ple of years, but men­tally I am happy this is it. And I am ex­cited for what is to come.

‘When I was in Glas­gow, I was young and do­ing all these great things, but you hon­estly don’t think about it. But last night I thought: “You will never have 12,000 peo­ple shout­ing for you again”. So I was just tak­ing it all in.’

TEN Scots have been named in the 43-strong GB swim­ming team for Glas­gow 2018. Dun­can Scott, Han­nah Mi­ley and Ross Mur­doch lead the way in a sig­nif­i­cant home­grown con­tin­gent for the mul­ti­sport Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships, which will see the swim­mers com­pete at Toll­cross, while the Sir Chris Hoy Velo­drome hosts cy­cling and Ber­lin the ath­let­ics in Au­gust.

Fan­tas­tic four: Scott (left) and Wal­lace (sec­ond left) won bronze in the men’s re­lay along­side Stephen Milne and Mark Szaranek

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