Today, Commonwealth Games Scotland confirmed a number of athlete changes to the Team preparing to head out to Gold Coast in just a few weeks’ time.
Hammer thrower Rachel Hunter, who threw 66.46m to top the Scottish rankings in 2017 has withdrawn on medical grounds, whilst road cyclist Andy Fenn has withdrawn due to changes in the race programme of his professional team.
This has resulted in last minute call ups for shooter, Leonard (Lenny) Thomson and gymnast, Ellie Russell.
Banff-based shooter Lenny Thomson is selected in the 50m Rifle Prone after an impressive fourth place finish at the 2017 Commonwealth Championships in Brisbane, which was the test event for the Gold Coast 2018 Games. Inspired to the best result of his career to date by competing in the Games venue, the Scottish Championship medallist from both 2015 and 2016 is excited to join Team Scotland for a return trip Down Under.
Lenny said: “I’m delighted to be added to the team and really looking forward to being part of it. It’s disappointing for the person who I am replacing, so my thoughts go out to them and I wish them all the best. I’m looking forward to competing in Brisbane again, it’s a nice range so it will be great to go back there. Making the final will be the major aim, but I’ll be pushing for places and a medal would be fantastic.”
Ellie Russell from Newtongrange in Midlothian will join the nine gymnasts already named, having also achieved qualification standards and been nominated for selection. With five men and five women now travelling to Gold Coast, the nation will have the strongest possible representation in the artistic gymnastics competition.
Ellie is coached by Sandy Richardson at West Lothian Artistic Gymnastics Club and is part of Scottish Gymnastics national performance programme. The 15 year-was the Scottish junior women’s all-around champion in 2016 and 2017 before going on to qualify for apparatus finals in the same age category at last year’s British Championships.
Competing in her first year as a senior, the Newbattle Community High School student qualified for all four apparatus finals at last weekend’s Scottish national artistic gymnastics championships, winning gold on vault and silver on asymmetric bars and beam.
Speaking after hearing the news, Ellie said: “I am so happy and shocked to be honest, after the disappointment of not being named when the team was originally announced and I can’t quite believe I’m going to the Games.
“I have just been concentrating on training for the Scottish and British championships instead and after doing really well last weekend at the Scottish, this news just tops it off. I’m really glad to be joining the other girls in the Gold Coast.
“The past year has included lots of training camps and working on routines, trying to perfect everything and make them the best they could be for the selection competitions. I’m just happy for me and my coach that all the hard work we’ve put in has paid off.”
Announcing the changes, Jon Doig, Team Scotland Chef de Mission said: “It is always a bitter sweet moment when team changes happen at this late stage. You are extremely disappointed for those who have been forced to withdraw, whilst recognizing the exciting opportunity this presents to those called up.
“I would like to wish Rachel and Andy all the very best, and knowing them both I am sure they will be fully supporting their team mates from back home.
“I also look forward to welcoming Lenny and Ellie to Team Scotland. I am sure it will be a rollercoaster ride for them over the next few days, as we work closely with them to ensure everything is in place for their participation, but they both make great additions to the team.”
The ‘Beast from the East’ also took its toll on Team Scotland plans today, with triathlete Grant Sheldon, one of the first athletes due to depart for warm weather training ahead of the Games, delayed by the extreme conditions.