The city of Stirling may be feeling the cold with temperatures dropping well into minus levels, but sports scholars at the University of Stirling are experiencing altogether sunnier climes.
Triathletes from the University’s International Sports Scholarship Programme (ISSP) are currently spending a week at a training camp in Fuerteventura, where the temperature is 25 degrees Celsius.
It is one of seven warm weather camps for Stirling students taking place across the globe, including the golfers travelling to Cairo, Egypt and swimmers heading to Pretoria in South Africa.
The triathletes trip to the Canary Islands has been arranged by triathlonscotland and sees seven Stirling students swim, bike and run at the Playitas sports resort, as well as train alongside elite Dane Rasmus Henning, the 2009 European Long Distance Triathlon Champion.
“The sunshine obviously makes it more enjoyable and with snow and ice back in Stirling, it is difficult to train at home at all,” said 17-year-old Mathematics student Cameron Milne, pictured. “Warm weather camps bring you on a massive amount.
“We’re at a place with everything we need on one site so it takes all the stress out of the travelling, and training with Rasmus Henning is really good to be able to learn from someone with so much knowledge. It is a great experience, but it is definitely not a holiday and we are training hard to get in the best shape for the race season.”
Next off the mark are footballers from the Scottish FA Women’s National Academy, based at the University campus. Thirteen Academy players, including PhD student Frankie Brown from Bridge of Allan, will join Scotland internationalist Pauline Hamill, the Academy Coach, in Cyprus for a week-long training camp.
On top of technical and fitness training, the players will take on Cypriot champions Apollo, who reached the last 16 of the 2010 Uefa Champion’s League. The University will also provide sports science support staff, including research student Robyn McDowall, who will be monitoring player’s heart rates and hydration levels.
The furthest travelling scholars will be the Stirling swimmers, with six students and coach Ian Wright commuting almost 6,000 miles for an altitude camp in Pretoria, South Africa. A further seven swimmers, including Delhi 2010 Commonwealth medallists Jak Scott and Lewis Smith, will make the shorter journey to Tenerife in Spain.
An international event in Germany will follow the swimmer’s training camps and three taekwondo scholars will also be in competitive action in the New Year. Dale Rhodie, Craig and Ross Eden and coach John Cullen will represent Scotland at the 5th Commonwealth Taekwondo Championships in Chennai, India from 25 January.
Stirling’s golfers will be heading both east and west next month, with the women competing on the Orange Blossom Tour in Florida and the men attending a camp in Cairo, Egypt.
2010 Scottish Amateur Women’s Golf Champion Kelsey MacDonald is one of five scholarship golfers playing in three tournaments on the USA’s premier tour for women’s amateur golf. It is the seventh consecutive year Stirling students have competed in the Tour, with Kelsey making the semi-finals of the Doherty Championship in 2009 and finishing runner-up in 2008.
While Florida is a regular fixture, the men’s nine day trip to Cairo is new to the golf programme, one of several developments introduced by High Performance Golf Coach Dean Robertson. A former European Tour winner, Robertson, pictured, is looking forward to putting the 15 man squad through their paces.
“Getting out to Cairo will kick-start the year for us, we’ll be working on all aspects from mental skills to the physical side of the game,” explained Robertson. “The University of Stirling is the premier place to gain a golf scholarship across Europe and this camp is just one part of the programme. Egypt is an emerging golf destination and the venue is perfect for us, with the golf course on our doorstep.”
It all adds up to a hectic New Year for the University’s performance athletes, but spare a thought for the men’s footballers and the tennis teams, who will have to put up with the Scottish weather as they fulfil their respective domestic league fixtures.
* More than 500 students have been supported by the University of Stirling’s International Sports Scholarship Programme since its launch in 1981. It provides a twin-track approach, allowing talented young student athletes to combine their education with high performance sports success. In 2010-11, the programme supports 90 athletes across six sports. For more information, visit www.sportingexcellence.stir.ac.uk/scholarships
* The main image shows (l-r): graduate Rachel Cassidy, Harriet Beasley, Eilidh Mackay, Rebecca Wilson, Jordana Graham and Kelsey MacDonald at the Orange Blossom Tour in 2010.
Students attending the training camps are:
Golf Florida, USA Students: Harriet Beasley, Jordana Graham, Kelsey MacDonald, Eilidh Mackay and Rebecca Wilson, Alyson McKechin (Reid Kerr College) and Holly Clyburn (GB Elite Squad member) Support staff: Lesley Mackay (High Performance Golf Coach), Raleigh Gowrie (Sports Performance Manager)
Golf Cairo, Egypt Students: David Booth, Zander Culverwell, Michael Daily, Kit Holmes, Michael Howard, Jack McDonald, Dewi Merckx, Fraser Moore, Oliver Roberts, Graeme Robertson, Bobby Rushford, Malko Schraner, Darren Timms, Colin Thomson and Andrew Wallace Support staff: Dean Robertson (High Performance Golf Coach) and Dr John Mathers (Sports Psychologist)
Swimming Tenerife, Spain Students: Eloise Barber, Ryan Bennett, Jonathan Greig, Callum Hillicks, Jak Scott, Lewis Smith and Josh Walsh. Support staff: Doug Frost (British Gas ITC: Stirling Head Coach) and Rob Greenwood (British Gas ITC: Stirling Coach)
Swimming Pretoria, South Africa Students: Catherine Marcroft, Calum McGhee, Ross Muir, Jamie Ross, Douglas Scott and Peter Stewart. Support staff: Ian Wright (Stirling Performance Squad Coach)
Taekwondo Chennai, India Students: Craig Eden, Ross Eden and Dale Rhodie Support staff: John Cullen (National Coach)
Triathlon Fuerteventura, Canary Islands Students: Peter Anderson, Rory Downie, Andrew Hood, Cameron Milne, Kimberly Preston, Greg Turner and Natalie Milne. Support staff: Blair Cartmell (Assistant National Performance Development Coach) and Chris Volley (National Performance Development Coach)
Women’s football Cyprus Students: Lee Alexander, Frankie Brown, Sarah Crilly, Lisa Evans, Jo Hutcheson, Molly McKean, Lauren McMurchie, Eilish McSorley, Emma Mitchell, Khym Ramsay, Christie Murray, Jane Ross and Jenna Ross and Hayley lauder (Heriot-Watt University). Support staff: Pauline Hamill (Academy Coach), Robyn McDowall, Creag Robertson, Joni Neilson (Physio) and Ross Brand (Goalkeeping coach)