A record number of sports scholars from the University of Stirling have been selected to represent Great Britain at the 2011 World University Summer Games.
Six students from Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence will compete at the biennial Games in Shenzhen, China, which run from 12-23 August.
Some 12,500 student athletes from across the world will compete across 24 sports, including around a 240-strong British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) team.
The largest Stirling representation will be in women’s football, where three players from the Scottish FA Women’s National Football Academy have been called up.
Training: Jo Hutcheson, goalkeeping coach Thomas McCulloch and Khym Ramsay
Kimberly Thomson, from Perth, a former Scotland U19 international defender and current Sports Studies, Physical and Professional Education student is joined by goalkeepers Jo Hutcheson, a Sports Management student from Aberdeen and Khym Ramsay, a Sports Studies student from Dalry in Ayrshire.
Ramsay, 21, plays for Rangers in the Scottish Women’s Premier League and has previously represented Scotland at the UEFA European Women’s U19 Championships, but believes competing in China will rank amongst her greatest achievements.
She said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be selected and can’t wait to get out there. We have been told we could be playing in front of huge crowds of up to 60,000 people which will be a great experience. I’m not sure what the standard of football will be like, but I expect we’ll face other international standard players.
“It may be across the other side of the world, but I can use my experience of travelling and competing abroad to prepare. I’ll have some friendly competition with Jo [Hutcheson] for who starts in goal and with three players from the Academy getting selected, it just shows you the high standard of women’s football in Scotland at the moment.”
Kyle Macaulay, who scored the goal which secured the BUCS Mars Football Premier North League title for Stirling University FC, is part of the men’s football team. The former Aberdeen and Alloa Athletic midfielder was the only member of the league winning side to make it through the trials.
In golf, current British Universities Strokeplay champion Kelsey MacDonald, pictured right, is part of an all-Scottish women’s team along with Gemma Bradbury from the University of St Andrew’s and Jane Turner from Robert Gordon University.
The trio are all part of national sports scholarship programme Winning Students, as are the Scottish FA National Women’s Academy players. And the sixth Stirling student, swimmer Lewis Smith, is also a Winning Students-supported athlete.
Smith, part of the campus-based British Gas Intensive Training Centre (ITC) squad, booked his ticket to China after a hat-trick of medals at the British Gas ASA National Swimming Championships. The Sports studies student won a gold in the 400m Individual Medley (IM), silver in the 200 IM and bronze in the 400m Freestyle events.
Selection was tinged with the disappointment of narrowly missing out on a place at the FINA World Championships, but the 23-year-old, pictured right, remains in high spirits.
He said: “I’m very pleased to be going to the World University Games as it gives me a chance to compete at another high level event. As soon as I come back, it’s straight into hard training all building up to March next year and the Olympic Trials, when I need to be on top of my game.
“Since I moved from Edinburgh I’ve been given so much support at the University of Stirling through the ITC, the University sports scholarship and Winning Students so it will be good to go and race for the University and hopefully come away with a medal. I know the competition will be tough, but I always set out to win.”
The omens are good for Smith, as a Stirling swimmer returned with a medal the last time the Games were held in Asia. Andy Hunter, who graduated in July 2010, won a silver medal in the 200m Freestyle at the 2007 Games in Thailand, which also featured golfers Gavin Dear and Scott Borrowman and current ATP Tour tennis player Colin Fleming.
University Sports Performance Manager Raleigh Gowrie said: “I am pleased that the University of Stirling has a strong representation at the 2011 World University Games. Representing Great Britain is a significant sporting honour. To do so at world level is particularly satisfying and represents the high performance standards at which these students are operating. Furthermore, it is reflective of the aims and objectives of the University's International Sports Scholarship programme.”