With just 100 days to go until the fifth Commonwealth Youth Games get underway in Samoa, Youth Team Scotland has been boosted by 12 additional team members
Commonwealth Games Scotland (CGS) today named athletes in Archery, Boxing, Squash and Weightlifting, bringing the number of athletes selected onto Youth Team Scotland so far to 20.
Struan Caughey and Evelina D’Arcy become the first archers ever to represent Scotland at a Youth Games and will compete in Individual Recurve events and the Mixed Team competition. Samoa 2015 will be the fifth edition of the Commonwealth Youth Games and the first time Archery has been included. The sport has been contested twice in the full Commonwealth Games – Brisbane 1982 and Delhi 2010.
Born in Elgin, Struan has gone from strength to strength ever since a ‘come and try’ event at Chatsworth Fair led to him joining an after school beginners course. The 16 year old has won the British Championships, is ranked number one in Scotland and is becoming a consistent member of the GB Junior team.15 year old Evelina has been British Junior champion on three occasions and a member of every Scottish Junior team since 2012. Excited at her selection for Samoa she says she, “will do whatever it takes to hear our national anthem sound out over the whole South Pacific.”
Claudine Jennings, Performance Director at Scottish Archery said, “Scottish Archery is delighted that these two dedicated and talented young archers are going to shoot for their country in Samoa, This a great opportunity for them and hopefully will inspire other young archers. Not since 2010 have Scottish archers been able to represent their country at Commonwealth level and we are thrilled to be part of the Youth Games.”
Squash will be represented by two of Scotland’s brightest teenage talents. Aberdeen’s Richard Hollins, three time National Age Group champion, rates his victory at the Scottish Junior Open as his proudest moment. In winning the under 17 event he became the first Scottish player to do so since his sporting hero, multiple Commonwealth medallist Peter Nicol, took the title in 1988.
For Edinburgh 17-year-old Carrie Hallam, the inspiration comes from even closer to home in the form of coach, Stuart Crawford. Having watched her mentor compete for Team Scotland at Glasgow 2014, Carrie will now go from spectator to competitor for her own first taste of Commonwealth competition. A past winner at both the Irish and Italian Open, she is no stranger to international competition and will benefit from Stuart’s experience in Samoa as he travels as Team Leader for the sport.
“It means a massive amount to me,” said Carrie. “For squash players, experiencing multi-sport Games is a unique and infrequent opportunity. The Commonwealth Games is the pinnacle of my sport, so Samoa will act as a stepping stone to prepare and inspire me to play for my country as a senior athlete, which is my ultimate goal.”
Four weightlifters are named, including Pitlochry 14-year-old Rowan Morrogh Bernard, who is celebrating a double selection as she is set to compete for Great Britain at the European Youth Championships in August before heading to Samoa with Youth Team Scotland. She currently holds an incredible 16 Scottish records across youth and junior age groups, holds British youth and schools titles and has won Scottish titles right up to senior level.
“To compete for Scotland in Samoa at the Commonwealth Youth Games, after the time I had in Glasgow on the Achieve Programme, will be such a fantastic experience, said Rowan. “I’m so grateful to my coaches and everyone in Pitlochry Amateur Weightlifting Club for all the support they’ve given me, I just can’t wait to make them proud, it’s all about training even harder now.”
Ayrshire College student Biatrice Gabell, who competes for Kilmarnock WLC, is also a multiple Scottish record holder, all achieved since a broken ankle, with weightlifting as part of her recovery, led to a switch from badminton in 2013. Glasgow’s Jason Epton, who competes for the Gladiator Club based in Easterhouse, set a British U14 record at the Celtic Championships in November to add to his growing collection of Scottish age group records and multiple Scottish and British titles.
Jason’s Gladiator club-mate Daniel Richardson was just four months old when the inaugural Youth Games came to Edinburgh in 2000 and, while he might not remember the experience, toured the Athletes’ Village with Dad, Alex, who was weightlifting team manager for the Games.15 years on he will return to the Games as a competitor and with every 69kg category Scottish U14 and U15 record in the book to his name, will be looking to make this Games one he won’t forget.
Team Scotland boxers have a proud history at the Commonwealth Games and the Youth Games have been no exception, with a return of 12 medals from the 17 boxers who have represented Scotland at this level. The four-strong squad named today will aspire to follow in the footsteps of Josh Taylor and Charlie Flynn who both won Youth Games medals before taking gold at Glasgow 2014.
16-year-old Willie Hutchison from Lanark, who boxes for the Springhill club, will represent Youth Team Scotland in the 75kg event after he became the first Scot to win European Junior gold in November last year. He has not rested on his laurels either, surpassing all expectations to take silver at the prestigious Nikolay Pavlyukov tournament in Russia against boxers up to two years his senior.
Joining Willie in the Boxing squad are Bellahouston’s Sean Lazzerini, the current British Youth Champion, who goes in the 81kg category and British Youth silver medallists Billy Stuart of Aberdeen and Kilmarnock’s Kieran McMaster who compete in the 56kg and 64kg events respectively. All four are in fantastic form, each winning gold at the Lah Nimani Tournament in Kosovo at the weekend.
Elinor Middlemiss, General Team Manager said: “With just 100 days until Youth Team Scotland march out at the Opening Ceremony of Samoa 2015, the Games are becoming very real for all involved. The Youth Games are an exciting first step into Commonwealth competition and provide the ideal platform for young athletes to develop and gain competition experience for future events. I would like to congratulate all the athletes on their selection for Youth Team Scotland and wish them every success in Samoa.”
The final sports and full team will be announced on Tuesday 30 June 2015.
Struan Caughey, 16yrs, Elgin
Evelina D’Arcy, 15yrs, Athens, Greece
Sean Lazzerini, 17yrs, Glasgow
William Hutchison, 16yrs, Lanark
Kieran McMaster, 18yrs, Kilmarnock
Billy Stuart, 17yrs, Aberdeen
Carrie Hallam, 17yrs, Edinburgh
Richard Hollins, 17yrs, Aberdeen
Biatrice Gabell, 17yrs, Dalry, Ayrshire
Jason Epton, 14yrs, Glasgow
Daniel Richardson, 15yrs, Glasgow
Rowan Morrogh Bernard, 14yrs, Pitlochry