University of Stirling student Scott McCowan is eyeing a medal following his selection for the British Boccia team at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
McCowan, who studies Psychology and Sports Studies, is one of nine players named in the Great Britain Boccia team, the target ball sport similar to French boules.
Boccia is played indoors, often on a wooden floor, with the aim to position the leather-bound balls closest to the jack.
The 20-year-old from Kilmarnock, who receives support from Scotland’s national sports scholarship programme Winning Students, admits it took a while for the news of his selection to sink in, but is now fully focused on medal success.
He said: “At first, hearing I’d made the team it was more relief than anything else as I had been working towards it for so long. Possible selection had always been something in the future which I didn’t try to think about too much, but now that it’s here I’m absolutely delighted.
“When the call came to tell me, it was bittersweet as my little brother didn’t make the team and some of my friends also missed out. They’ve been great and wished me all the best and I’ve had family and friends all phoning to congratulate me. I actually had to keep the news under wraps for a couple of days until the official announcement which was tough as I just wanted to scream it from the rooftops.
“In every tournament I take part in I want to win and this is no different. I’d love to win gold in both the individual and pair events, but it is my first Games so I know it will be tough. Still, many of the debutants in Beijing won a Paralympic medal so newcomers can upset the odds.”
Scott, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, took up Boccia in 2007, first taking part at the Ayrshire Special Games.
Now in his third year of studies at Stirling, support from Winning Students has enabled him to defer for a year as he continues his preparations for London.
“The time out from my studies has been really important as it was a busy time before selection and it’s even busier as the team preparations step up,” added Scott.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to my studies after London and the support from Winning Students has helped a lot. It’s also great to be at a university like Stirling with such a great sporting environment and where they understand what an elite athlete requires.”
Winning Students currently supports more than 120 talented athletes across 31 Scottish colleges and universities, providing funding support and academic flexibility. Find out more at: www.winningstudents-scotland.ac.uk