Garry Brown was not even meant to be playing at Leamington Spa this summer, but now he is a Commonwealth Games champion.
The 39-year-old was a late call-up to the men’s para pairs team with Kevin Wallace and claimed Scotland’s first lawn bowls gold medal of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, with a 16-7 victory over Australia.
Wallace and Brown were the dominant pair throughout the tournament and held their nerve in the gold medal match in front of an exuberant Tartan Army.
Brown was only called up to the team after Garry Hood was suspended for posting offensive remarks online, but the duo showed little signs of unfamiliarity.
And an emotional Wallace believed they saved their best bowls until last to win their first-ever gold medals.
“I said during the week I was saving that wee bit for the final when I wasn’t playing great,” said Wallace. “Well, we delivered today.
“Garry smashed it, I’m so proud of him, stepping in late. You just know what you must do when you pull that Scotland top on.
“It means the world to us; it hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
This summer, Team Scotland, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, compromises of over 250 athletes, all vying for medal success.
Brown only got the call for the Commonwealths weeks before the start of the competition on Friday, but the pair got off to an electric start to their campaign, beating England 23-12 in their own backyard.
It was the perfect start, and the pair didn’t look back, romping through their group with their only defeat coming against Australia.
But the pair got their revenge in the gold medal match, and Brown admitted it would take a while for him to come to terms with what he had achieved.
“It will take me a good long while to get that through my head,” said Brown.
“I’ve been to international swimming, football, but that tops the lot.
“What a team, they’ve supported me all the way through it.
“A late call-up and the team just got together; Kevin basically guided me all the way through it.”
The pair were cheered on throughout by a strong and vocal Scottish contingent in the crowds that made it sound like the games were being held in Barrhead rather than Birmingham at times.
Wallace even had friends make the trip over from Spain to see him play in the final, and the duo believed such strong support made the difference.
“Kevin told me his friends were coming back from Spain for the final, and I was like ‘okay we need to win the gold then, don’t we?’”, joked Brown.
Such support might have seen others wilt under the pressure, but not Wallace and Brown, who remained calm amongst the idyllic surroundings of Victoria Park to claim Scotland’s third gold of the 2022 Games.
“We just played the game as it came, we knew they were going to be tough,” said Wallace. “They’re a great team but we really gelled today.
“We were phenomenal right from the word go. It’s a phenomenal achievement.”
There was also a medal for legendary pair Alex “Tattie” Marshall and Paul Foster, as they bounced back from a disappointing defeat in the men’s pairs semi-finals to take bronze.
The pair added yet another medal to their collections, now a combined total of 13, with a comfortable 25-5 victory over Northern Ireland’s Sam Barkley and Martin McHugh.
And the duo insisted they were always confident of victory in Leamington Spa.
“To get any medal at a Commonwealth Games is a great achievement,” said Foster, who won his sixth medal.
“[There was] disappointment from yesterday but we’re both experienced enough to put that behind us.
“We recharged last night, went through a few things, and then came out all guns blazing.
“Tattie played well today, I was happy with how I played, and we deserved to get the bronze medal.
“Any time I failed; Tattie was there to do the business.”