The 50 athletes selected to represent Youth Team Scotland at the fourth Commonwealth Youth Games (7-12 September 2011) set sail today for the Isle of Man.
The athletes, aged between 13-18 years, will compete for Scotland in all seven sports on the programme, with many entering multiple events: Athletics (9), Badminton (4), Boxing (5), Cycling (4), Gymnastics (6), Rugby 7s (12), Swimming (10). They will be part of a 1000-strong athlete contingent from 69 Commonwealth nations and territories.
The Youth Games concept created by Scotland in 2000, and designed as an effective vehicle for developing young athletes and giving them an early experience of an international multi-sport environment, has a great track record of uncovering future champions at senior level. To date 47 Scottish athletes from a total of 200 have progressed from the youth to the senior Commonwealth Games Team, with 11 going on to win a total of 18 medals for Scotland.
It is anticipated that this positive trend will continue and a significant number of the 50 athletes who compete and win medals in the Isle of Man will go on to compete with distinction for Scotland at Glasgow 2014 and beyond.
Wishing the team luck for the Games, Michael Cavanagh, Chairman of CGS said: “Today is a really exciting day for our team of 50 athletes as they embark on their Commonwealth Games journey. Whilst winning medals is important, the major benefit of the Commonwealth Youth Games is the opportunity it gives to expose young athletes to this level of international competition in a multi-sport environment.
“I am sure Youth Team Scotland will compete to the best of their ability and that we will see a number of talented new faces emerge, who will go on to compete in Glasgow in 2014 when the next Commonwealth Games are held in Scotland. I wish them every success and I look forward to watching them perform and cheering them on over the next few days.”
Amongst the team members travelling to the Isle of Man after a successful season so far, are the two latest athletes to be awarded Athlete of the Month for August by Commonwealth Games Scotland, boxer Mark McKeown and throws athlete Nick Percy.
Scotland’s reputation in amateur boxing continues to rise, and the performances of Mark McKeown have certainly contributed. The Bantamweight boxer, who went to Delhi as part of the Achieve 2014 programme, picked up a bronze medal in the European Youth Championships in Dublin; adding to his bronze won at the GB Championships and a silver from the Mostar tournament in Bosnia earlier this year.
2011 has been a year full of medal winning performances by discus thrower Nick Percy (16). Following his Youth Team Scotland selection for the Commonwealth Youth Games, Nick stormed to two gold (discus and hammer) and one silver medal (shot put) at the UK under-17 Championships and took gold at last weekend’s UK School Games. Earlier in the season he also qualified for the final of the World Youth Championships finishing 7th in a personal best, whilst on home soil he had victories at the Scottish under-18 Open Championships and the UK under-18 Open.
Also going into the Commonwealth Youth Games showing great form is badminton player Josh Neil (also a member of the Achieve 2014 programme), who was runner-up in the boys’ singles final at the UK School Games last weekend, whilst hammer thrower Kimberley Reed took gold at the same event in Sheffield. Swimmer, Craig Benson has also had a great run of form winning gold and silver for Great Britain in the 100m and 50m breaststroke respectively at the World Junior Championships in Peru last month. Cross-country mountain bike specialist, Grant Ferguson, finished just outside the medals, in an impressive fourth place at the Junior Mountain Bike World Championships last weekend and will now contest the road events in the Isle of Man.
Youth Team Scotland will be led by General Team Manager Vicky Strange and a coaching and support team of 24 staff. The team left for the Games early this morning travelling by coach and ferry. They will have a training day on 7 September followed by the Opening Ceremony on 8 September. This will be followed by three days of hotly contested competition 9-11 September.
The Youth Games will also feature a cultural programme on the 12 September to enable athletes to mix and learn about other cultures, before an informal Closing Ceremony. The team will return to Scotland on Tuesday 13 September 2011.
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