As the University of Stirling’s four Olympic swimmers were applauded back to campus this week, bringing three silver medals home with them, Stirling is celebrating its place as Scotland’s top performing University in Rio.
Scotland equalled the country's best ever medal tally from any Games, matching the 13 from London four years ago, and Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence proudly delivered more than 20 per cent of the tally.
19-year-old sports studies student and swimming scholar Duncan Scott, coached by Steven Tigg, enjoyed tremendous success, bagging himself two silvers as part of the 4x100m medley and 4x200m freestyle relay teams.
Full-time athlete Robbie Renwick also won a well-earned silver as part of the 4x200m freestyle relay squad.
The freestyle swimmers were selected for Team GB alongside Stirling team mates Ross Murdoch and Craig Benson who made it to the 100m breaststroke and 200m breaststroke semi-finals respectively.
Duncan Scott said: “To win one Olympic medal was beyond special so to say that I have two is an incredible feeling. I have something special to show for all the hard work that people have put into my progression over the last four years.
“My coach Steven Tigg has worked with me for 10 years now - he has been a huge part of my swimming career and will continue to be. Both Steven and Ben Higson have been extremely supportive and positive throughout last season and incredibly professional in getting the best out of the entire team. They work closely with my lecturers to communicate my schedule so between that and the world-class facilities on campus, the University plays an important role.”
Rio 2016 was the University’s most successful Olympic Games to date and the University is putting the historic success down to brilliant coaching, academic flexibility for students, and a long-term commitment to nurture sporting talent.
Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at the University said: “Our designation as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence is one we take seriously – sport is part of our DNA and we are at the heart of Scottish sport. The scholarship programmes we run continue to show what young sportspeople can achieve with the right support.
“The guidance, professionalism and support of our performance coaching staff has readied our athletes for the extraordinary experience of an Olympic Games and we’re incredibly proud of what they have achieved.
“Performance development takes patience, commitment and a long-term strategy. While we pause to celebrate the success of Rio 2016, we will now continue to harness the power of sport and education, foster strong relationships with sporting bodies, and focus on the sporting and academic development of some of Scotland’s brightest talents.”
Aileen Campbell, Minister for Public Health and Sport, said: “There’s no higher honour than competing on a global stage and these swimmers have done Scotland, and University of Stirling, proud with their achievements for Team GB. I’m sure they’ll enjoy the celebrations back on campus, and I hope their achievements will help to inspire their fellow students to take up and enjoy sport. Swimming is a great activity, whether you enjoy it as a competitive sport or a recreational pastime.”
Duncan is now looking to the next chapter of challenges, adding: “Qualification for the Commonwealth Games is in April so that’s my next big target, however the main thing this year is my individual swimming for the World Championships.”
Stirling honorary graduate Andy Murray also claimed a gold medal at the Games, while former sports scholar Colin Fleming competed in the tennis and alumni Catriona Matthew was tied in 22nd place in the women’s golf.
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.