Team Scotland athletes past, present and future gathered in Stirling today (Thursday 28 March) to celebrate an incredible 30 years of the Team Scotland Youth Trust.
Since 1989, the Team Scotland Youth Trust has supported aspiring young Scottish athletes through scholarships and awards, with many past beneficiaries going on to win Commonwealth, Olympic, World and European medals. These have included several stars of Team Scotland’s recent Games success, such as boxer Charlie Flynn, badminton player Kirsty Gilmour, shooter Jennifer McIntosh, swimmer Craig Benson and hurdler Eilidh Doyle.
To date more than £500,000 has been distributed to athletes across several strands. These include the PHM Athlete Award, which provides individual awards of up to £1000 to aspiring athletes under the age of 26, scholarships to student athletes studying at the University of Stirling (home of Team Scotland) and the Achieve Programme run up to and during the Commonwealth Games to give potential future members of Team Scotland a mentored, behind the scenes experience of the Games.
Current recipients of the PHM Athlete Award, which is administered by the Youth Trust, were joined today by benefactor Paul Morron along with a number of athletes who have benefitted from Youth Trust support over the past three decades.
Among the 18 current recipients of the PHM Athlete Award are Gold Coast 2018 medallists Scott McLay (Swimming) and Kelvin Cham (Gymnastics), as well as Vicky Glover, who earlier this month became the first Scottish female boxer to win a European Championship medal with bronze at the EUBC U22 Championships in Russia.
Scotland’s most successful athlete in Commonwealth Youth Games history with five medals in the Bahamas, McLay praised the support of the Youth Trust and says it is making a real difference in the pursuit of his sporting ambitions.
“It’s helped a tremendous amount to know that I’ve got that backing from the Team Scotland Youth Trust”, he said. “I’m using the money towards equipment, race entries and travel to competitions, which takes the financial pressure off me and allows me to concentrate fully on just the swimming.
“I’m working towards the World Championships and Tokyo 2020, and Birmingham 2022 is definitely on my list as well. The fact that I’m receiving a PHM Award is just amazing as it shows that my hard work is noticed and, with this support, I’ll continue to do the sport I love to achieve my dreams.”
This year has also seen para-sport athletes recognised for the first time, with European para-athletics Championships silver medallist Ross Patterson and aspiring Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games archer, Cameron Radigan, receiving awards.
Joining the celebration alongside the current crop of rising stars and past recipients of the PHM Athlete Award were members of Scotland’s first Commonwealth Youth Games team, in recognition of the instrumental role the Team Scotland Youth Trust played in the creation of this event.
The inaugural Commonwealth Youth Games were held in Edinburgh in August 2000 with the aim of bridging the gap between young athletes competing in their own sports specific events and the often daunting first experience of a senior multi-sport Games. From this beginning the concept has grown to become a truly global event with more than 1000 athletes from 64 nations competing at the most recent Games in 2017.
Completing the celebrations were members of the Victoria 1994 Commonwealth Games team, who benefitted from an individual financial award from the Youth Trust to each athlete selected for those Games, in one of the earliest links between the Youth Trust and a Games team.
Chair of the Team Scotland Youth Trust, a double gold medallist in swimming from Melbourne 2006, Caitlin McClatchey, said: “From initiating global events like the Commonwealth Youth Games, to showing belief in aspiring athletes looking to make their mark, the Team Scotland Youth Trust has made a huge difference in helping young athletes to realise their sporting ambitions. It has been fantastic to see the difference this support is making for our current rising stars and I’m confident that the Youth Trust will continue to support the development of Commonwealth and Olympic medallists for many years to come.”
All funds are generated from donations and fundraising events with the annual Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards event being the major focus. As the Youth Trust celebrates 30 years a target of £30,000 has been set to be raised by the next Commonwealth Youth Games in 2021 to help fund future generations of athletes.