With three gold, one silver and one bronze, Scott McLay was the star of Bahamas 2017, ending the Games as Scotland’s most successful Commonwealth Youth Games athlete in history, following an incredible few days in the pool. Just nine months later he was back on Team Scotland, this time as a senior at Gold Coast 2018, and once again returned with silverware, taking bronze as part of the 4x100m Freestyle Relay squad.
In November he was back racing alongside Gold Coast teammates Duncan Scott and Craig Benson, as part of the Stirling University contingent at the British Universities and Colleges Championships in Sheffield, where he came away with two gold and two silver medals across a successful weekend. He followed up at last weekend’s Scottish National Short Course Championships in Edinburgh as he broke Todd Cooper’s long standing National 50m Butterfly record set back in 2003. His Team Scotland experiences, he says, have given him a huge boost as he looks to a big 2019 where he is targeting a place at the World Championships in South Korea:
“My first experience with Team Scotland at Bahamas 2017 is something I’ll never forget as it was such a good atmosphere to be part of, which played a key part in my success. Everyone came together in every sport to support one another and it was like being part of a family – something I also found at Gold Coast 2018. The experience of swimming with a crowd of over 10,000 looking at you and the fact I was part of a medal winning relay was just beyond what I expected at my first senior Games. When we swam the relay we all felt as one with the same goal, to get a medal, but my favourite part of the Games was the whole atmosphere -getting to know people from all over the world and getting to know what they do. I was just taking it all in.
“There is nothing better than seeing your hard work in training show through, and that is exactly what the Commonwealth Games was, years of hard work and dedication paying off and it was more than worth it. My goal for the next year is to try and get into the Great Britain team for the World Championships, which is something I have dreamed about since starting swimming. Then my ultimate goal is to go the Olympics and to win an Olympic medal.”
Big ambitions, meaning more years of hard work and dedication ahead. He’ll be supported on the next part of his journey by a PHM Athlete Award, one of 18 young athletes across the Commonwealth Games sports to receive one for the coming year.
“Any sport is expensive to stay in and that’s why the Award will be a huge help,” he said. “I’ll use the money towards equipment, race entries and travel to competitions, which will take the financial pressure off me and allow me to concentrate fully on just the swimming. The fact that I’m getting a PHM Award is just amazing as it shows that my hard work is noticed and that, with this support, I’ll continue to do the sport I love to achieve my dreams.”
By the time of the next Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in three and a half years’ time, Scott will be 23 years old and could be a key player in Team Scotland’s swimming team as he reaches his peak. He’s certainly proved he can perform on the big stage and is definitely one to look out for on future major championship podiums.
The first woman ever to take to the boxing ring at a Commonwealth Games for Team Scotland as she made her debut at Gold Coast 2018, Vicky Glover has already become something of a trailblazer in Scottish women’s boxing at the age of just 19. In another ‘first’, she is one of three women selected as part of Scotland’s first ever female contingent at the World Elite Championships, which begin this week in Delhi, India.
With preliminary bouts getting underway on Thursday 15 November, she joins Stephanie Kernachan and Megan Reid in making Scottish Boxing history as she goes for glory in the 57kg category. Fully aware of the significance of the occasion she is ready for the challenge and determined to set the bar high for those that follow in her footsteps.
“It’s a privilege to be one of Scotland’s first women to compete at the World Championships,” she said. “This is a big step for female boxing in Scotland and shows great progress within the sport. I would love to perform to my best and win a medal.”
Her track record shows she is capable of fulfilling that ambition, with 5th place at the 2017 World Youth Championships and an agonisingly close split decision in Gold Coast denying her from adding the historic achievement of becoming Scotland’s first ever female boxing medallist at the Commonwealth Games.
A win in the quarter-finals would have guaranteed her bronze and yet another place in history. Matched up against the experienced Canadian Sabrina Aubin-Boucher, Vicky put in a phenomenal performance with two of the five judges scoring her the winner. Unfortunately the other three gave it to the Canadian, but despite the disappointment of being so close yet so far from a medal ‘Down Under’ she has shown true strength of character and quietly refocused on the next goal.
“My experience in the Gold Coast was one of a lifetime,” she said. “Apart from competing, what I enjoyed most was getting to know all the other athletes from different sports and countries and how we all came together. Next up is the World Championships where I would love to medal and apart from that my main aim for the next year is to get on the GB boxing team and to win another Scottish and British title. I ultimately hope to be selected for Birmingham 2022 and aim for a gold medal.”
That steely determination caught the eye of the Scottish Commonwealth Games Youth Trust when it came to choosing a select bunch of young athletes to receive PHM Athlete Awards for the coming year.
“I am very grateful to receive a PHM Athlete Award,” said Vicky. “It will help me in so many ways to achieve my goal, for example helping with training costs, travel expenses and training kit. This takes the stress away from me, meaning I can focus fully on my goal of winning a medal at the World Championships.”
The Women’s World Boxing Championships take place in Delhi, India from 15-24 November 2018. Follow Vicky and her team mates’ progress on Boxing Scotland’s Facebook page.