The White Stuff: Record-breaking Sophie Taylor deserves pride of place for Glasgow gold

Swimmer Sophie Taylor
Swimmer Sophie Taylor

It took little over 66 seconds for Sophie Taylor to pronounce herself as the new sweetheart of British swimming. The Harrogate star swam into the record books on Monday night with a quite sensational performance in the 100m breaststroke at the Royal Commonwealth pool.

Her meteoric rise was another glorious moment of Yorkshire’s sporting summer and another we can be immensely proud of.

Despite taking home two silvers and a bronze from the World Junior Championships in Dubai, and three national titles in May, her triumph came as a surprise.

There was little expectation that the 18-year-old would return to North Yorkshire with two pieces of extra jewellery in her suitcase.

For this was still only her first senior championships.

However, her improvement has been marked over the past 12 months. And in Monday’s final, she chopped another half a second off her personal best to lower yet another British record.

I’m sure there will be some frustration that there was not more individual silverware crossing the border.

A poor race in the 200m heats saw her miss out on the final and had she swam her personal best, she would have taken gold.

In the 50m breaststroke, she had the agony of turning her head towards the giant results board and seeing her name one place below the podium, despite having swum a British record in her earlier heat.

But to come back from those disappointments and swim even faster in the 100m showed a maturity much beyond her teenage years.

Her victory was even more of a surprise because of her positioning midway through the race.

The City of Leeds swimmer, representing England, was more than a metre behind Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson turning for home, seemingly fighting for a silver medal.

However, for that final 50, Taylor showed the grit of a champion to power back and grab gold by more than a metre.

Clearly, the earlier frustrations will have played a part, but the determination she showed to hit back in the race and go quicker than she had ever done before outlined the competitor inside her.

She is a winner.

As Sophie switched her head to the giant screen in the aquatic centre, the glee on her face matched the outpouring joy from the stands,.

She had a golden smile, to match a golden girl.

It truly was delightful viewing.

With her career ahead of her, this surely won’t be her only golden highlight.

Like for so many athletes before, the Commonwealths will have provided crucial championship experience

It is always difficult to gauge success at the Commonwealth Games, with some events lacking the top class competition, and some athletes choosing to peak for other targets later in the year.

Taylor still has seconds to find to match the speed of Lithuanian sensation Ruta Milutyte, who won gold at the 2012 Olympic Games when just 15-years-old in her distance,

However, three British records in 2014 prove the hype is not too much over her achievements.

She has emerged as a fully-fledged star of British swimming at the Commonwealth Games.

For many years, the national selectors have searched for a world class breaststroke performer. With the British record now lowered to new depths, they have their girl.