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Sporting Excellence swimming duo win Coach of the Year

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Stirling high performance swim coaches Ben Higson and Steven Tigg pick up their Team Scotland Scottish Sports Award Credit: Jeff Holmes/Commonwealth Games Scotland

University of Stirling high performance swimming coaches Ben Higson and Steven Tigg have been recognised at the Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards, winning the 2016 Coach of the Year award.

The duo took the prestigious title at a star-studded ceremony in Edinburgh, attended by more than 50 Scottish Olympians and Paralympians from the Rio Games.

Nominated alongside Gordon Reid’s coach Karen Ross and Davis Cup captain Leon Smith, the coaches were recognised for their outstanding success in coaching the University of Stirling High Performance swim team.

The squad has taken 11 European and three Olympic medals this year, making Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence the best performing Scottish University at the 2016 Games.

Ben and Steven put the success down to a long-term approach to development, world-class facilities and the collaboration between the University, Scottish Swimming and sportscotland.

Speaking after the ceremony, Ben said: “It’s a great honour to receive an award of this stature and it speaks volumes about the quality of the programme at the University of Stirling. There are so many people who work with the athletes and contribute to their success - this award is for everyone who has given their support.

“A lot of hard work and dedication goes into coaching a squad to perform consistently, but we have found that openness and honesty with our athletes helps them achieve the goals they want to.”

Steven added: “It’s very humbling to be recognised amongst such esteemed company, across a wide spread of sports and high achievers.  It is an award for our wider team, who work so hard behind the scenes ensuring we, as coaches, have as much information to go on as possible.

“A culmination of great talent, hard work, belief and enjoying every minute of what you do goes in to making the squad a success. Nothing would be possible without the resource we have from the wider community including University of Stirling, Scottish Swimming and the Scottish Institute of Sport – thank you to all of them.”

Four Stirling swimmers coached by Ben and Steven were selected to compete on behalf of Team GB in Rio. Among the success stories was 19-year-old Sports Studies student and swimming scholar Duncan Scott, who won two silvers as part of the 4x100m medley and 4x200m freestyle relay teams, and was nominated for the Male Athlete of the Year award alongside Andy Murray.

Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at the University of Stirling, said: “Ben and Steven’s dedication to our swimming programme is unwavering and the support they give these young athletes to develop their talents and help them perform at their very best, has allowed the team to achieve great things.

“World-class coaching, paired with academic flexibility and support, are key ingredients to help our sportspeople get the most of their time at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence. The role that mentors like Ben and Steven play in this success cannot be understated. Their recognition is richly deserved and we are immensely proud.”

Stirling’s former tennis scholar Gordon Reid also claimed Para-sport Athlete of the Year.

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Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence

The Scottish Government designated the University of Stirling as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence in 2008. Our mission is to deliver the best for Scottish sport through the powerful and inspirational combination of sport and education. We are at the heart of Scottish sport, preparing athletes to perform on the world stage, enabling students to develop their skill sets for excellent careers and producing innovative research to improve the health of the nation. Our sport-centred campus brings together the people shaping Scottish sport, creating a critical mass of sporting expertise and excellence.

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