The 40 athletes selected to represent Team Scotland at the sixth Commonwealth Youth Games left Edinburgh Airport early on Friday morning on the first leg of their journey to the Bahamas. It will be the first time a Commonwealth Games event has been held in the Caribbean for over 50 years.
The athletes, aged between 15 and 18 years, will compete for Scotland from 18-23 July in seven of the nine sports on the Bahamas 2017 programme: Athletics, Beach Volleyball, Boxing, Cycling, Judo, Swimming and Tennis. They will take their place amongst over 1000 of the best young athletes from the 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth, as they experience an international multi-sport Games for the very first time.
The selected athletes have been in fine form in the lead up to departure, with highlights including sprinter Adam Clayton breaking a 40 year old Scottish U17 record over 100m at the England Athletics U20 Championships in Bedford; swimmer Scott McLay winning bronze a part of Great Britain’s Mixed Medley Relay team at the European Junior Championships in Israel and tennis player Hamish Stewart earning a wildcard entry into the main draw at Junior Wimbledon in both the Boys’ Singles and Doubles.
Sadly for boxer Craig Morgan his Games are over before they began, forced to withdraw due to injury.
A number of sports make their Commonwealth Youth Games debut at Bahamas 2017, including Judo and Beach Volleyball. Kirkcaldy born Fiona Todman, who lives in Dunfermline and competes for the Destination Judo club is one of the first six judoka ever to represent Team Scotland in Judo at a Youth Games and excited by the prospect of competing alongside athletes from other sports.
“Being part of Team Scotland is so important to me because I worked so hard to qualify,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to the competition and being part of a big multi-sport event is going to be a really interesting and exciting experience.
“When I compete it’s normally just within judo tournaments, so I enjoyed meeting other athletes and learning about their sports at the team camp. We’ve got shared experiences even though we do different sports and now the excitement is really building towards competing in the Bahamas.”
Former Scotland Rugby 7s star Colin Gregor, who played at two Commonwealth Games, including as captain at Glasgow 2014, will lead Team Scotland in the Bahamas as General Team Manager, aided by an experienced coaching and support team.
Wishing the team luck for the Games, he said: “This is a really exciting time for all of our athletes as they begin their Commonwealth Games journey and I am sure they are determined to do Scotland proud. Whilst we hope that many of our athletes will return with medals, the major benefit of the Commonwealth Youth Games is the opportunity it gives young athletes to experience this level of international competition in a multi-sport environment.
“The chance to engage with people their age from other sports and from all around the Commonwealth is something I know they are all looking forward to and the whole event, including the travel, will be a learning experience as many will not have competed so far from home before. The opportunity to learn from the expertise of the staff travelling with them will stand them in great stead for future events overseas.
“I am sure Team Scotland will compete to the best of its ability and that we will see a number of future stars emerge, who will go on to represent Team Scotland at senior level. I wish them every success and I look forward to seeing them in action over the six days of competition.”
On arrival in the Bahamas the athletes will have a chance to train and familiarise themselves with the venues before boxer Lewis Johnstone leads Youth Team Scotland out at the Opening Ceremony on 18 September. The sporting action begins with Beach Volleyball and Judo on the opening day, followed by a further five days of hotly contested competition, concluding on the 23 July.
The Youth Games will also feature a cultural programme which will run throughout the Games to enable athletes to mix and learn about other cultures, before an informal Closing Ceremony. The team will return to Scotland on Monday 24 July 2017 arriving at Edinburgh Airport at 1540hrs.