Fachie battles through illness to make Team Scotland history

·3-min read
Fachie battles through illness to make Team Scotland history

By Tom Harle

Neil Fachie felt like death warmed up but still managed to take tandem gold and become Scotland’s joint best-ever performer at the Commonwealth Games.

The Aberdeen star was laid low by an illness in the build-up, threatening his chances of drawing level with lawn bowler Alex Marshall on an all-time high five golds.

But Fachie and pilot Lewis Stewart pulled it out of the bag when it mattered, pipping Welsh rivals to top step of the podium at London’s velodrome.

“It’s genuinely mind-blowing, Glasgow (2014) was the first and I didn’t think I’d still be here for this one," said Fachie, who is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.

“I’ve been quite ill all week but I had the legs in this tank and it’s thanks to Lewis on the front of the bike that we did it.”

Most modern athletes brush off talk of records and milestones but not Fachie, a consummate performer, who was well-aware of his shot at Scottish sporting history.

He said: “It has been a motivation for sure to put para-sport on the map. I wish Alex all the best, I hope he wins two more golds here but if I’ve got the chance, I don’t mind going up there and championing it, it’s a huge motivation.

“Just putting the Scotland jersey on is enough, even in a club race, I’d still want to win it.”

The 38-year-old didn’t have it easy. Long-time rival James Ball, stoked by Fachie’s Paralympic partner Matt Rotherham laid down the gauntlet with a 1000m clocking of 1:00:053, a Games record.

Fachie and Ball went one-two at the Tokyo Paralympics and did so in two events at the last Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018.

“We train with those guys every day, we knew how good they’d be. I thought when I saw that time, ‘we can beat this,” said Fachie. “It was tight but I knew we could do it.

“It’s because of them that we’re going as quick as we are. We’re pushing each other and we don’t want to lose to each other.

“It’s a friendly rivalry and when we break into Home Nations, we want to do it for Scotland.”

Fachie delivered the goods with 59.938 for another stunning big-stage triumph.

Wife Lora was one of many cheering in the stands as the London velodrome delivered another white-hot atmosphere for the opening day of track finals.

“You forget how good it is,” said Fachie.. “I raced here in London 2012 with this crowd and it’s the same today, it’s electric.

“When you’re suffering on that last lap, that’s what makes you dig that little bit deeper.”

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