Two months to the day they will fly out to Samoa for the fifth Commonwealth Youth Games, athletes gathered in Stirling for the announcement of the full team selected to represent Youth Team Scotland in September.
Of the 27 athletes named by Commonwealth Games Scotland today, seven are new additions as Athletics and Tennis announce their squads for the first time. They join the 20 athletes previously selected across Archery, Boxing, Lawn Bowls, Squash, Swimming and Weightlifting. The athletes, aged between 14 and 18 years, will compete for Scotland in eight of the nine sports on the programme, with several entering multiple events.
The concept of the Youth Games was designed by Scotland in 2000 with the aim of developing young athletes and giving them an early experience of an international multi-sport environment. The event has a proven track record, with 66 athletes having progressed to the Commonwealth Games (35 competing at Glasgow 2014) and winning 32 winning medals over the last four Commonwealth Games, including gold medallists Charlie Flynn, Josh Taylor and Hannah Miley.
Athletics name a strong line-up of six athletes, all ranked within the top ten in the Commonwealth in this age group. Record breakers Ben Greenwood and Alisha Rees lead the way with 800m runner Ben breaking the Scottish U17 record on his senior debut for Scotland at the Loughborough International in May, having taken over a second off the British indoor record in March.
Alisha stormed to a personal best of 11.76 to break a Scottish Schools 100m record which had stood for 45 years. She returned from the recent England Athletics U20 Championships – effectively the British Championships for this age group – with a bronze medal over 200m, competing against athletes up to three years older than herself. Cameron Tindle in the 200m and 800m specialist Carys McAulay also took bronze at these Championships while Inverness thrower George Evans, who has improved his shot by over a metre and his discus by over 6 metres this year, took gold in both disciplines in specially held U18 events.
Long jumper Rachel Alexander has made big strides in her quest for Youth Games selection, the 17 year old improving her best to 6.10m this summer to sit third on the Scottish Senior rankings.
Tennis will be represented in Samoa by 17 year old Louie McLelland and 15 year old Ewen Lumsden. The pair, who both attend Beaconhurst School in Stirling, will play their respective singles events and team up for the mixed doubles. Louie, Scottish Junior Open winner at both U16 and U18 last year, stepped up to win the women's singles at the 2015 Scottish National Championships and is following in the footsteps of her aunt who plays county tennis and great aunt who played at Junior Wimbledon.
Ewen travels to Samoa as the reigning Scottish U16 champion and will call on international experience gained representing Scotland at Four Nations and Tri-National tournaments as well as representing Great Britain at Summer and Winter Cups in 2012 and 2013.
Of the sports previously selected, Lawn Bowls athletes Carla Banks and Darren Weir have waited longest to meet their final team mates since they were selected on Commonwealth Day on the 9th March.
Boxing send a talented squad including British Champion Sean Lazzerini and European Junior Champion William Hutchison while the weightlifting team includes Youth Team Scotland’s youngest team member for Samoa – 14 year old Rowan Morrogh Bernard - who holds an incredible 16 Scottish records at youth and junior level.
Struan Caughey, recently returned from the World Youth Championships, and Evelina D’Arcy become the first archers ever to represent Scotland at a Youth Games with Archery included in the Games for the first time. Squash is represented by 17 year olds Carrie Hallam and Richard Hollins, the first Scottish player to win the Scottish Junior Open since multiple Commonwealth medallist Peter Nicol took the title in 1988.
Swimming sends six athletes including Tain Bruce who erased Hannah Miley’s Age Group 200m Individual Medley record at last summer’s Scottish Championships and Carnegie club mate Craig McLean who has a phenomenal 48 Scottish and seven British records to his name.
Congratulating all the athletes, Commonwealth Games Chairman, Paul Bush OBE said: “Congratulations to all 27 athletes on their selection for Youth Team Scotland and in particular to the seven new additions in Athletics and Tennis. It is a fantastic achievement to be selected for this important event and a great opportunity for them to gain a real understanding of what the Commonwealth Games is all about from both a sporting and cultural perspective.
“The Commonwealth Youth Games is increasingly playing a key role in the development of our young athletes and ensuring that when they progress to the full Commonwealth Games they are able to deliver their best possible performance at their first Games, in many cases going on to win medals for Scotland.
“I would like to wish them all the very best for their final preparations for Samoa and I look forward to cheering them on as they make their Commonwealth debut.”
FULL TEAM LIST
Struan Caughey, 16, Elgin - Archery
Evelina D’Arcy, 15, Athens, Greece
George Evans, 17, Inverness - Athletics
Alisha Rees, 16, Banchory - Athletics
Ben Greenwood, 16, Perth - Athletics
Rachel Alexander, 17, Glasgow - Athletics
Cameron Tindle, 17, Berwick - Athletics
Carys McCaulay, 17, Warrington, England – Athletics
Billy Stuart, 17, Aberdeen - Boxing
Sean Lazzerini, 17, Glasgow - Boxing
William Hutchison, 16, Lanark - Boxing
Kieran McMaster, 18, Kilmarnock - Boxing
Carla Banks, 16, Inverurie – Lawn Bowls
Darren Weir, 16, Prestwick – Lawn Bowls
Richard Hollins, 17, Aberdeen - Squash
Carrie Hallam, 17, Edinburgh - Squash
Kieran Preston, 18, Aberdeen - Swimming
Benedict Tortolano, 17, Stirling - Swimming
Meg Finnon, 17, East Kilbride - Swimming
Erin Robertson, 16, Ayr - Swimming
Tain Bruce, 17, Dalgety Bay - Swimming
Craig McLean, 16, Livingston - Swimming
Ewen Lumsden, 15, Lenzie - Tennis
Louie McLelland, 17, Stirling - Tennis
Rowan Morrogh Bernard, 14, Pitlochry – Weightlifting
Jason Epton, 14, Glasgow - Weightlifting
Daniel Richardson, 15, Glasgow - Weightlifting
Biatrice Gabell, 17, Dalry, Ayrshire - Weightlifting
Photo Credit: Jeff Holmes