Three outstanding individuals have been named as finalists for Coach of the Year at the Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards, with Lesley McKenna (Snowsports), Steven Tigg (Swimming) and Andy Young (Athletics) in the running for the prestigious award sponsored by the University of Stirling.
While Scotland’s star athletes thrill and inspire on the international stage, their success would not be possible without the dedication and expert knowledge of their coaches behind the scenes.
A former international snowboarder, Lesley McKenna has made the transition from three times Winter Olympic athlete & World Cup winner to world class coach. Managing the Pipe & Park programme at British Ski & Snowboard, she was the squad’s Olympic Team Leader at Pyoengchang 2018 where Team GB had their most successful Winter Olympic Games in history, including bronze medals for Pipe & Park squad members Billy Morgan and Izzy Atkin. She has been in post since 2012 and a crucial part of her work has been to link traditional sporting culture and action sports culture to create the philosophy that has led the GB Park & Pipe team to such success.
Delighted to be named as a finalist, Lesley said: “I am very honoured to be nominated for this award, and to be put forward by Badenoch and Strathspey Sports Council who have supported my sporting career from when I was at school, right the way through until the present day. I actually had no idea that I had been nominated and it came as a very pleasant surprise to hear I had made it on to the shortlist, especially as I think there are so many really, really great coaches working in Scotland right now with some equally great athletes.”
Steven Tigg coached Duncan Scott to an impressive array of Commonwealth and European medals as he became Scotland’s most successful athlete ever at a single Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast and three times European champion in Glasgow. He also coached England’s Aimee Wilmott to 400m Individual Medley gold in Gold Coast, as well as young swimmers Craig MacLean and Scott McLay who made their senior Commonwealth Games debuts, swimming the heats for Scotland’s bronze medal winning 4x100m Freestyle Relay.
Joint winner of this award in 2016, Steven said: “It is amazing to be nominated for this award, especially given all the fantastic achievements from Scottish athletes, teams and their coaches over the past 12 months. We have an excellent team of staff and it is great to be recognised.”
2018 was Andy Young’s toughest year yet as he guided Laura Muir through her final year of veterinary studies. He supported he so well that she managed to win three global medals and graduate successfully, winning two medals at the World Indoor Championships whilst undertaking exams. She went on to take her first major championships title outdoors at the European Championships in Berlin, also claiming the overall Diamond League crown over 1500m. Andy also took young athlete Jemma Reekie to a seven second personal best over 1500m, World Cup bronze and the European Championships semi-finals.
“It’s an honour to be recognised as one of the elite coaches in your home country,” said Andy. “You enjoy seeing the results of your hard work with the success of your athletes on the track or field, but it’s nice when others too acknowledge your hard work and the key role you play in that success and put you forward for such awards.”
Congratulating the three finalists, Paul Bush OBE, Chairman, Commonwealth Games Scotland said: “Behind each of our international athletes is an outstanding coach, and our three finalists represent the pinnacle of achievement, guiding their athletes to some truly outstanding results at the year’s major championships. Recognition at the Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards is just reward for their huge contribution and I look forward to celebrating with them on 13 September.”
Sponsor of the Coach of the Year award, the University of Stirling is numbered among the top 50 new universities in the world and is designated as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence. With athletes and coaches in many disciplines, including swimming, golf, tennis, football and triathlon nurtured in the University’s unique environment, in preparation for Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth competition, the University is recognised internationally for innovative research and teaching in sport and for success in developing sporting talent and improving performance.
Winners across all award categories will be crowned at the Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards in a star-studded celebration of Scottish sport on 13 September at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.