Chalmers’ medal dream comes true

ALASTAIR CHALMERS made history on Saturday night in powering to a brilliant bronze at Birmingham’s roaring Alexander Stadium.

The 400m hurdles ace became Guernsey’s first track and field athlete ever to land a Commonwealth Games medal – previously only bowlers or shooters had made the podium – and he wore his island background on his sleeve when that achievement was highlighted on live TV afterwards.

‘When I came here, I knew I could make history for the little island,’ he said.

‘I’m so proud to come from Guernsey, and to put them on the map now is my dream.’

Funnily enough, sprint legend Michael Johnson had asked his fellow pundits, ‘Where is Guernsey?’ afterwards before being enlightened about the Channel Islands. He later shared a selfie with Chalmers in the social media frenzy that followed.

Although the 22-year-old tends to set the bar high, he has a track record of delivering.

Having publicly backed his medal chances from months out, he suffered from untimely Covid in the immediate build-up and merely scraped through Tuesday’s heat as a non-automatic qualifier.

But to write him off would have been grossly underestimating the fiercely determined, yet remarkably composed, track star.

Seven athletes started the final following an indefensible false start from Canada’s Malik Metivier, whose personal best sat one-hundredth outside that of Chalmers.

Running from lane two, Chalmers always looked good for at least fourth, despite a minor hiccup in stride pattern on the top bend.

The crowd noise soared going into the home straight, at which point the British Virgin Islands’ Kyron McMaster, Jamaica’s Jaheel Hyde and Kenya’s Wiseman Were Mukhobe appeared almost unreachable.

But the Kenyan soon slowed markedly – a knocked barrier foreshadowing his fade – and Chalmers strode strongly off the final hurdle to snatch third in 49.97sec.

His 48.88 PB would have been enough to win the race, with McMaster defending his title in 48.93 and Hyde following in 49.78. But a bronze medal was a job very well done.

Alastair Chalmers on the podium having received his bronze medal. (Picture by PA, 31119708)

‘Honestly, I still can’t really believe it,’ he told the Guernsey Press afterwards.

‘It’s just a dream come true. I mean, I thought into this competition I could get a medal.

‘Having Covid last week didn’t really help. But look, we’re here, we’ve got the medal secured in the locker, so you’ve just got to live in the moment and enjoy it – because honestly, like 30,000 people in this stadium, hearing that roar down the home stretch, I’ll never forget.’

Chalmers’ success, five days after Lucy Beere’s lawn bowls silver had ended Guernsey’s 28-year Commonwealths medal drought, further brightened a memorable ‘home’ Games at Birmingham 2022.

In an iconic video clip, family and other supporters had flocked to embrace an emotional Chalmers by the stands. He later gave a heartfelt thanks for the support.

‘It was so beautiful having my family and team here,’ he added.

‘It’s something even more special than just being around the world somewhere.’

On Friday night, Abi Galpin had bowed out from her campaign as Guernsey’s first female Commonwealths sprinter in 12 years, placing seventh in her 200m semi-final with a 24.10.

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