With the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships having just come to a close in Doha, one Scottish gymnast watching avidly will have been City of Glasgow’s Kelvin Cham, perhaps with aspirations of one day taking to that World stage himself. Bronze medallist in the Team Event at Gold Coast 2018 in his first major championships, it’s been a quick rise to the elite level for the 20 year old, who claimed the Scottish All-Around title in his first year as a senior gymnast in 2017 on route to the Games.
“My experience in Gold Coast was amazing,” said Kelvin. “It was my first major competition and it gave me an insight of what it is like to compete and train at the top level. I loved preparing for the competition with the team and being in the village with other elite athletes. I learnt a lot from the Games and also from my older team mates, who have been many other big competitions.”
He was certainly in exalted company in Gold Coast as Olympic and World medallist Daniel Purvis and former European Junior All-Around champion Frank Baines returned to Team Scotland after securing a historic first team medal for Scotland at Glasgow 2014.
In a true team effort Kelvin, Daniel and Frank, along with David Weir and Hamish Carter, secured a second successive Team Event medal in Gold Coast, but it was far from plain sailing. Injured at the British Championships just weeks before the start of the Games, it was touch and go whether Kelvin would even be able to compete. He put in a strong performance until an awkward landing on his Rings routine aggravated his injury and ended his competition, earning high praise from Purvis in post event media interviews for his contribution to the team.
“My injury was three weeks before the competition, so it restricted which apparatus I could compete on during the Games,” said Kelvin. “It meant a lot to me to win a medal with the team because we worked so hard to get there and do our best. It was my first Games and I was nervous about how I would perform with my injury. I had lots on my mind but everyone around me was always helping.”
Taking time to fully rehab his injury after Gold Coast, Kelvin has not yet competed since the Games but is hungry to get back in the competition arena and has received a boost with the news that he has been awarded a PHM Athlete Award via the Scottish Commonwealth Games Youth Trust.
“My next competition is Scottish championships at the start of next year and I am looking forward to compete at the start of 2019 fully fit,” he said. “The PHM Athlete Award means a lot because I’m not funded currently and have to coach to make money. I’m proud to have been selected for this Award and I am very grateful that I am being supported in my journey. In the next year I would love to be competing fully fit against the top gymnasts in Great Britain and Birmingham 2022 is 100% my next big aim.”
Team Scotland’s golden girl of the athletics track at the Bahamas 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games with victory in the 1500m, just nine months later Erin Wallace was back on a Commonwealth Games start line, having made the immediate step up to the senior team for Gold Coast 2018. Going from junior to senior ranks is a big ask for any young athlete, but even more remarkably she did it in a different sport, competing in the Triathlon Mixed Relay event ‘Down Under’.
“Gold Coast was a surreal experience and one that I will never forget,” said Erin. “I didn’t expect to compete in my first Commonwealth Games so soon after the Commonwealth Youth Games. It was very special, as I watched a lot of the previous Commonwealth Games in Glasgow because it was my hometown. I never would have guessed four years down the line that I would be competing myself.”
And she didn’t stop at there. A jam-packed summer saw her finish 7th over 1500m at the World Junior Athletics Championships in Finland and just a week later finish 5th at the European Junior Triathlon Championships in Estonia. Fast forward a couple of months and she was back in Gold Coast for the World Junior Triathlon Championships, where she put in an incredible performance to take the silver medal.
“It has been a bit hectic at times, but I’m grateful that I was given equal opportunities to compete in both sports,” she says. “It’s tough to pick a highlight, but making it to the final of the World Junior 1500m and the silver medal I won in Gold Coast later on in the year were special for similar reasons. In both I felt that I was able to execute my best race on the day for what I was capable of and all the work I had put in was shown.”
On the back of her outstanding track record, Erin was recently named as one of 18 young Scottish athletes receiving a PHM Scholarship Award through the Scottish Commonwealth Games Youth Trust, following in the footsteps of current stars such as Charlie Flynn, Kirsty Gilmour and Zoey Clark.
“Reading the article that listed the previous recipients of the award, seeing the names there brings it home what a privilege it is to receive this support. I’m looking to compete in a few races abroad to gain some more experience before the summer season kicks off, so the money will really help me with that and hopefully give me racing experience to help me perform at my best in the championships.
“The recognition has also helped me look at my long term goals in these two sports more realistically. So far there has been a fair amount of overlap in training, with my triathlon training providing a pretty good aerobic base for my athletics, so I have not found balancing too difficult. It’s hard to fit all the training I want to do into the week, whilst still having enough recovery time, and I forget sometimes that I can’t train as a full time runner and triathlete simultaneously!”
Finalist in the Young Athlete of the Year category at September’s Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards, Erin is also shortlisted as a finalist for U20 Athlete of the Year at this weekend’s scottishathletics Annual Awards. Not one to rest on her laurels, she is full of ambition for 2019 and beyond, including already looking ahead to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“Next year my main aims are the European Junior Championships in both Athletics and Triathlon during the summer and luckily next year they are nicely spread apart which will let me focus on both of them individually. There is also the World Junior Triathlon Championships which is closer to home this time, in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“I would like to compete at Birmingham 2022 because a Games so close to home would be amazing to compete in and I would love to experience an atmosphere similar to Glasgow 2014. I suppose long term my goals are similar to most athletes – to compete or medal at the Olympics and World Championships – and hopefully with the support I have this will be possible. Although there are other stepping stones along the way to top success, I’m excited to see what the future brings.”
Fresh from the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, where she helped showcase her sport on the world stage as a squash ambassador, Georgia Adderley is looking to the future, which she hopes will include Commonwealth Games glory and, perhaps, another chance to participate at Olympic level.
“Buenos Aires was an incredible experience,” she says. “This has been huge for the sport, to have the chance to prove why it should be in the Olympics and the way it has changed and developed over the past few years to help it become a better spectator sport. I was asked to go and I didn’t think twice about it. The glass court had an interactive front wall and was very vibrant and I played lots of different people in a non-competitive environment. I really enjoyed being able to watch some of the sports taking part in the Olympics and to see lots of other athletes perform. I also saw some of the city and experienced the culture of South America, which was a fantastic new experience.”
With Squash included in Buenos Aires as a demonstration event, she hopes it will help pave the way to inclusion in future Games.
“I really hope Squash will be in the next Olympics as it is an incredibly unique sport like no other. It has everything and is exciting to watch and play and can be played at any age or stage. It has every right to be there and I hope 2024 will be the year!”
As well as her Youth Olympics experience, winning European Junior Championships bronze, Scottish Senior and British Junior Championships gold and British Junior Open bronze are just some of the highlights that Georgia has crammed into the last 12 months. On the back of her impressive string of results and passion for developing her sport, she was recently named as one of 18 young Scottish athletes awarded a PHM Scholarship Award by the Scottish Commonwealth Games Youth Trust for 2019, as she prepares to make the transition from junior to senior ranks.
“This support means so much to me,” she says. “I will be using the money towards my travel and accommodation at the events I plan on playing to help improve me as a squash player and develop as an elite athlete.
“To be among some great athletes who have had it, both in the past and currently, means so much to me. To know that other people are behind me and to have this support is really encouraging to me. This is going to help me to be the best athlete I can be, both on court and off court, and ensure I am prepared for every match I play.”
While in receipt of support like this herself, Georgia is already paying it forward through her involvement in Scottish Women in Sport’s ‘Girls Do Squash’ campaign, which aims to encourage girls and women into sport.
“This is something I am really passionate about and want to see grow and develop,” says Georgia. “I think sport is so important and keeps you healthy in so many different ways – it helps you to meet new people, stay mentally healthy and keep fit to mention just a few. Not enough people play, especially girls, and I really am excited to see this change, however long that takes! Sport has played such a huge role in my life and I love sharing that. It’s something I want to continue to work at and help grow this part of our sport culture.”
Next up is another busy year for the 17 year old, with the British Junior Championships later this month, both individual and team European U19 Championships in April and World Junior Championships in July high on the agenda. The ultimate goal is to become the best in the world and to win Commonwealth Games gold. With her drive and determination, she’s on the right track.