On one of the busiest days of the year at Glasgow Airport, most people were heading off on holiday for the October break. But for 44 young Scots it was the start of the trip of a lifetime, selected to represent their country at the III Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune, India (12-18 October 2008).
Pune 2008 is the first Youth Games to which all 71 Commonwealth countries have been invited to take part with 351 medals to be won across nine sports: athletics, badminton, boxing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, tennis, weightlifting and wrestling.
Based on previous Youth Games results, it is anticipated that many of the Scottish athletes, all of whom are 18 years of age or under, who compete and win medals in Pune will go on to compete for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 and Glasgow 2014 when they should be at their competitive peak.
Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP was there to see the team off and to wish them luck, accompanied by Commonwealth Games Scotland Chief Executive, Jon Doig.
Commenting, Jon said: “l am confident that we have selected an outstanding Youth Games Team to compete in Pune and it is fantastic to see the length and breadth of Scotland represented from Troon to Aberdeen to The Isle of Islay.
“Whilst winning medals is important, the major benefit of the Commonwealth Youth Games is exposing young athletes to this level of competition in a multi-sport environment. It is the ideal preparation event for future senior Commonwealth Games and I am sure their experience at these Youth Games will inspire many of them to go on to compete successfully in Delhi in 2010 and particularly Glasgow in 2014.”
The team is travelling to India with Emirates via Dubai and Denise Holmes, Sales Manager (Scotland) for Emirates Airline, was also there to see the team off and said: “Emirates is delighted to be the official Airline for the Commonwealth Youth Games Team travelling to Pune.
“Everyone at Emirates would like to take this opportunity to wish all of the team the best of luck at the Games.”
The team is also being supported by Clydesdale Bank and adding their best wishes Steve Reid, Retail Director of Clydesdale Bank said: “We recognise the dedication and commitment of these athletes and their significant achievement in being selected. We are proud to support the team in their endeavours and everyone at Clydesdale Bank wishes them all the best for the Games.”
The team will return to Glasgow on Monday 20 October 2008.