The governing body for track and field in Scotland have launched a new National Academy geared to give the country’s best young athletes a better chance of future success.
Medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018 and greater representation with GB are among the goals for the project launched by scottishathletics.
So far, 32 athletes and their coaches have been ‘inducted’ into the programme which has expanded from a pilot Youth Academy over the past couple of years which focussed only on Scotland’s elite 16 and 17 year-olds.
The list now features Para athletes Lewis Clow and Jason MacLean, who both represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games at Hampden last year, as well as 18-year-olds Euan Gillham and Emma Canning, who have competed for GB at U20 level this season.
Cameron Tindle, the 16-year-old sprinter who lined up for Scotland against Richard Kilty at the Sainsbury’s Glasgow International in January, is included as is Mhairi Hendry, who recently broke a Scottish U20 indoor record at 800m held by Laura Muir.
Rodger Harkins, who guided Lee McConnell’s illustrious career prior to his appointment as Director of Coaching with scottishathletics, is excited about the National Academy project which involved athletes and coaches receiving education, physio support and competition and training camp opportunities.
Parents, as well as coaches, are being included in sessions in an effort to widen knowledge and a number of the initial intake have been at a residential camp at Tulliallan this week with training sessions at Grangemouth.
‘We are delighted to confirm that scottishathletics are setting up a National Academy to further help the development of potential elite athletes,’ said Rodger.
‘Over the past couple of years, the Youth Academy for 16 and 17-year-olds laid the foundation for this project. It has been a really successful programme – offering advice and support to hard-working young athletes, their parents and their coaches. The education this group has received has been, and will be, invaluable as they continue to progress in the sport.
‘Now we feel a broader National Academy enables us to identify others worthy of this kind of support: late developers; those who may have changed events; or indeed are new to the sport in their mid-teens.
‘We don’t want the right people to miss out on this kind of learning opportunity. So that’s why we are broadening the base while not indulging in any real reduction in the high performance standards we’ve sought thus far.
‘This approach is totally consistent with our Performance Foundation principles to help talented Scottish athletes develop; to ‘Perform When It Counts’; and, in the future, to merit recognition by UK Athletics.
‘From the first year group, brought in during 2013, the likes of Euan Gillham and Emma Canning have won GB selection thus far at U20 level and that is great credit to them and their coaches. Others have appeared for Scotland or set age group records.
‘The goal of the National Academy is to educate and prepare people – that’s athletes and coaches – for that kind of progress and we’re looking towards greater Scottish involvement at events such as the World Youths, Commonwealth Youth Games, and Euro U20s and Euro 23s.’
The National Academy will be integrated into the scottishathletics performance pathway. The original project was launched in 2013 with the intention being to better support and direct young athletes, their coaches and parents as they progress towards senior status.
By widening the programme to consider performances from the summer 2014 season by older athletes, more individuals who are showing the potential to develop towards the outcomes and goals of the National Academy are now included.
scottishathletics regards the targets of the programme to be as follows:
*Improving the retention rate of our best age group athletes into the Senior ranks
*Increased representation on GB U18, U20 and U23 teams en route to CWG Gold Coast 2018 and beyond
*Increased number of athletes who in the future can benefit from support from UK Athletics/UK Sport
*Greater number of young athletes on CWG Gold Coast 2018 team and beyond
*More medals at CWG Gold Coast 2018 and beyond
From April 2015, the scottishathletics National Academy lineup looks as follows (coach name in brackets):
Tom Chandler (Kenny Pearson) Central AC
Emma Canning (Iain McEwan) Whitemoss
Euan Gillham (Robert Hawkins) Kilbarchan AAC
Gavin McArdle (Robert Hawkins) Kilbarchan AAC
Aidan Thompson (Derek Easton) Central AC
Josh Kerr (Dave Campbell) Edinburgh AC
Christopher Stewart (Dudley Walker) Giffnock North AAC
Mhairi Hendry (Andy Young) VP-Glasgow
Kathryn Gillespie (George Gillespie) Central AC
Neil Gourley (Ben Thomas) Giffnock North AAC
Owen Miller (Gemma Nicol) Dunfermline T&F
Shelby Watson (Ian Mirfin) Red Star AC
Sprints and Hurdles:
Pamela McNicol (Sandy Robertson) Law and District AC
Katie Purves (Allan Scott) Edinburgh AC
Ewan Dyer (Eric Simpson) Pitreavie AAC
Cameron Tindle (Henry Gray) Edinburgh AC
Alisha Rees (Willy Russell) Banchory Stonehaven
Mhairi Patience (Colin Sinclair) VP-Glasgow
Jill Cherry (Allan Scott) VP-Glasgow
Jack Lawrie (John Macdonald) Pitreavie AAC
Kelsey Stewart (Joyce/Ken Hogg) Aberdeen AAC
Jason MacLean (Charlie Forbes) Inverness Harriers
Lewis Clow (Trevor Madigan) Aberdeen AAC
Ross Paterson (John Kinder) Red Star AC
George Evans (Colin McCulloch) Inverness Harriers
Dionne Milne (Colin McCulloch) Moray Road Runners
Ciaran Wright (Willie Robertson) Falkirk Victoria Harriers
Ross Douglas (Jim Edwards) Charnwood AC
Anna Gordon (Eamon Fitzgerald) Pitreavie AAC
Caitlin Edgar (Kenny Pearson) Central AC (and Multi Events)
Rachel Alexander (Anne Stewart/David Watson) Jumps Giffnock North AAC
Lewis McGuire (Bryan Roy) Jumps Central AC
*The Scottish 10,000m Champs on Friday night in Glasgow will see the biggest fields assembled for the distance for many years compete for medals over 25 laps of the track.
In association with the Glasgow Athletics Association Miler Meet, there will be four races with 46 athletes on start-lists. Just two years ago, at Grangemouth in 2013, Derek Hawkins won a race featuring only 13 athletes and including Senior Men, Senior Women and Masters athletes.
The ‘Night of the 10ks’ is at Hutchesons Grammar in Glasgow with the first race at 6.15pm. Among the favourites are Kyle McLellan, MaxMcNeill, Calum McKenzie, Stuart Gibson, Lyndsay Morrison, Kara Tait and Katie Bristow.
Club folk are encouraged to come along with entry £3 for adults and U16s free.