From World medallists to World record breakers, Scotland’s Para-Sport athletes have excelled in 2019. From an incredibly strong list of nominations, three major championship medallists have been named as finalists for Para-Sport Athlete of the Year at the 2019 Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards on 3 October.
Winners of this award last year, cycling duo Neil Fachie and Matt Rotherham are shortlisted again after gold and silver at the World Championships and are joined by sprinter Abbie McNally, double silver medallist at the World Junior Championships, and World record breaking swimmer Scott Quin. The finalists will go head to head for the prestigious award sponsored by sportscotland.
Neil Fachie with pilot Matt Rotherham successfully defended their World Championship title in the Tandem B Sprint, despite a spectacular crash at almost 75kmph on the final bend. After taking the win over GB team mates Ball and Mitchell in the first sprint, the pair just needed one more to be crowned world champions. But a crash temporarily left their title in doubt as both were helped from the track sporting visible injuries. The significant lead they held over their compatriots meant the commissaires awarded them the win as opposed to restarting the race giving Neil his 13th world title and his seventh in this event. Victory saw the pair reverse the result of the Kilo held the previous day where Neil and Matt took silver.
“2018 was a tough year to follow,” said Neil. “An incident packed World Champs for myself and Matt culminated in gold and silver, despite crashes and mishaps. It’s been another incredible year for sport in Scotland, particularly in para-sport. As such it is a tremendous honour to be nominated for this award.”
Abbie McNally only took up athletics four years ago and 2019 has been a breakthrough year on the international stage for the 18 year old. She competed in her first ever Para-Athletics Grand Prix in Italy, setting personal best times in both 100m and 200m, before being selected for the British team at the World Junior Para Athletics Championships in Switzerland, where she took silver in both sprint distances. She is a huge inspiration for others, acting as an ambassador for disability sport and regularly speaking to athletes and coaches, using her own experience and journey to motivate others.
Delighted to be named as a finalist, Abbie said: “I am very honoured to be shortlisted for such a prestigious award. Thank you to everyone for all the support I have had on my journey so far.”
Scott Quin showed fantastic early season form with a World record time at the British Para-Swimming International in April this year. The 2016 Paralympic silver medallist recorded a time of 1.05.28 for the SB14 100m Breaststroke, stripping a full second from his previous best time during the heats. He then posted another sub 66 second swim in the final to claim top spot and the gold medal in the event. Since nominations for the Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards closed he has gone on to win silver at the recent World Para-Swimming Championships in London, replicating his result from the 2015 championships held in Glasgow.
“It’s an honour to be nominated in this category,” said Scott. “2018/2019 was a long season with the World Championships being rescheduled to September. But it has been a consistent season for me dropping my times in short course and long course competition. With Tokyo less than a year away I just want train hard and focus on my own process and be ready for Trials in April to try and qualify then hopefully after that set my sights on the Paralympic Games.”
Paul Bush, Chairman, Commonwealth Games Scotland said: “Scotland’s para-sport athletes have thrilled and inspired over the past 12 months and our three finalists represent the absolute pinnacle of achievement. I look forward to celebrating their successes with them on what will be a memorable and inspirational night.”
Sponsor of the Para-Sport Athlete of the Year Award is sportscotland, the lead agency for the development of sport in Scotland. sportscotland’s mission is to build a world class sporting system for everyone in Scotland, making sport a way of life, placing it at the heart of society and making a positive impact on people and communities.
Winners across all award categories will be crowned at the Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards in a star-studded celebration of Scottish sport on 3 October at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.