Nine swimmers from the University of Stirling have bid farewell to campus as they prepare to jet off to Australia ahead of next month’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Athletes from Team Scotland will begin their 10,000-mile trip today, with their Northern Irish and English counterparts set to follow on in the coming days.
The swimmers – who all train at the National Swimming Academy, based at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence – will join Stirling graduates, triathletes Grant Sheldon and Marc Austin, who have already arrived on the Gold Coast.
University of Stirling Principal, Professor Gerry McCormac, bid the athletes and Head Performance Swimming Coach, Steven Tigg, good luck as they departed campus. Cathy Gallagher, the University’s Director of Sport, and Jon Doig OBE, Chief Executive of Commonwealth Games Scotland, joined the Principal in wishing the athletes well.
Professor McCormac said: “The countdown to the Commonwealth Games is well underway and the entire University community is incredibly proud that our swimmers, their coach Steven Tigg, and our former triathlete scholars will be flying the flag on the Gold Coast.
“The selection of our athletes is testament to the hard work and dedication that they, and their coaches, exhibit on a daily basis here at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence. They should all be extremely proud of what they have achieved to date.
“Everyone here at the University will be watching intently and cheering them on as they bid for success in Australia. I wish them all a safe trip and the very best of luck.”
All of the athletes heading Down Under train at the Academy under programmes led by Tigg – who will travel with Team Scotland to the Games – and Bradley Hay, High Performance Swimming Coach.
Reigning Commonwealth champion, Ross Murdoch, and double Olympic medallist, Duncan Scott, will represent Scotland, alongside European silver medallist and World finalist, Kathleen Dawson, and former World Junior Champion, Craig Benson. They will be joined by Team Scotland’s most successful Youth Games athlete in history, Scott McLay, as well as 2015 Youth Games silver medallist, Craig McLean.
Calum Bain and Jamie Graham will represent Northern Ireland at the Gold Coast Games, while Aimee Willmott will compete for England.
McLay, a first-year sport and exercise science student, will compete in the 50m butterfly, 4x100m and 50m freestyle.
He said: “It feels incredible to be selected for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. I remember watching it at Glasgow 2014 and thinking I would never be at the level, and now that I am, it just means a lot to me.
“I want to produce the best performance I possibly can.”
Bain, a third-year accountancy student, said: “To be selected was great. It is the only real opportunity to represent Northern Ireland in swimming, so, I am really excited.
“It is the biggest competition of my life so far – I just want to get out there, feel the atmosphere, and race under those conditions. Hopefully I’ll enjoy it.”
Competing at her third Commonwealth Games, Willmott, will represent England in the 400m individual medley, 200m individual medley and 200m butterfly.
She said: “I’m really excited to get out to the Gold Coast, to be in Australia, and to compete in the Commonwealth Games. I have competed at one in Delhi and one in Glasgow, but I think that the atmosphere on the Gold Coast will be incredible.”
Former scholars, Sheldon, who continues to train at the University’s Triathlon High Performance Centre, and Austin travelled to Australia at the beginning of the month.
Jon Doig, Team Scotland Chef de Mission on the Gold Coast, said: “The University has provided a strong core of successful athletes at past Games and we look forward to the 2018 generation continuing this proud record. Being based at the University, we at Commonwealth Games Scotland see just how hard the athletes and wider University community are working to deliver results that will make the country proud in April.”
The 2018 Commonwealth Games will be held on the Gold Coast, Queensland, in Australia between 4 and 15 April 2018.