STROKE OF GOOD FORTUNE
Retiring Wallace hopes hero Scott will cash in on swimming career
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