A record number of athletes from the University of Stirling will compete in this summer’s Commonwealth Games – with 20 set to travel to Birmingham in the coming days.
As Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, Stirling will send 16 swimmers to the Games – including record-breaking Duncan Scott – as well as a triathlete, a judoka, and two hockey players. The athletes represent a total of five nations: Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, and Trinidad and Tobago.
In addition to the 20, several recent graduates from the University’s sports scholarship programmes will also compete in the Games – including in cycling, netball and triathlon.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of Stirling
I wish all of our athletes every success in Birmingham and know that the whole of Stirling will be cheering them on.
Professor Sir Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, said: “I am incredibly proud to see a record number of Stirling athletes selected to represent their home countries at the Commonwealth Games.
“Their selection is testament to their hard work and dedication, but also highlights the expertise of our university coaches, who support and encourage our sports stars to reach their full potential every day here at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence.
“I wish all of our athletes every success in Birmingham and know that the whole of Stirling will be cheering them on.”
Sixteen athletes from the University’s celebrated high performance swim programme will make the trip to the Games, which begin on July 28. Their coaches Steve Tigg (Head Performance Swim Coach) and Bradley Hay (High Performance Swim Coach) will also head south with Team Scotland. The group of swimmers is also supported at Stirling by High Performance Swim Coach Josh Williamson.
Last year, Duncan Scott became the most successful British athlete at an Olympics and, in 2018, claimed the accolade of most decorated swimmer at a single Commonwealth Games.
Speaking ahead of the Birmingham Games, Scott said: “I still experience the same sort of feelings in the build-up to major international competitions – but I’m much more relaxed.
“I’m an athlete and a competitor and, no matter what race I’m going into, I want to win.”
Reflecting on the University’s support, he added: “The impact that the University of Stirling has had on my career is unbelievable. The Institute of Sport is nearby, the facilities are excellent, and the close proximity of all the support staff works really well – it creates a unique and great culture and I feel fortunate to be here.”
His Scotland teammate Martyn Walton will make his Games debut after being part of the programme for seven years. On his selection, the BSc Sport and Exercise Science and MSc Sports Management graduate said: “For me this has given me a great end to my career. I plan for this to be my last meet before I go into coaching.
“It’s probably something, two or three years ago, I didn’t think was possible so, it’s amazing.”
Scott and Walton will be joined in the Team Scotland swim squad by fellow Stirling athletes Lucy Hope, Keanna Macinnes, Craig McNally, Stephen Milne, Ross Murdoch, Mark Szaranek, Emma Russell, Cassie Wild, Ollie Carter, Abby Kane and Toni Shaw. Kathleen Dawson – who won gold at last year’s Olympics – was also selected for Scotland but was forced to withdraw due to injury.
Shaw – the para swimming world champion in 400 metre freestyle S9 – said: “I’m really looking forward to the team atmosphere – being part of Team Scotland is so special and everyone comes together to root for one another.
“I just want to go to Birmingham and swim as best as I can because it will be really competitive. As long as I know I’ve given it my best, I’ll be happy with my performance.”
Meanwhile, Peter Allen (Isle of Man), Jack McMillan (Northern Ireland), and Cameron Kurle (England) will also swim for their respective countries.
Current University of Stirling athletes: judo, hockey, and triathlon
Stirling sports scholar Gabriella Wood – who last year became the first woman to represent Trinidad and Tobago in judo at the Olympics – will also travel to Birmingham, as will Team Scotland’s Sophia Green (triathlon), and Bronwyn Shields and Rob Harwood (both hockey).
Wood said: “This is my first Commonwealth Games and it’s really exciting. I’ve been working hard for this – so to have the call-up is amazing. I am most looking forward to seeing my own teammates from Trinidad and Tobago as it has been a while since I have seen them all.
“I love training at the University of Stirling – my strength and conditioning coaches are fantastic, and they have done everything to ensure that my programme suits me. It also gives me flexibility with my studies and enabled me to prepare properly for the Games.”
Graduates: cycling, judo, netball, triathlon
A number of recent graduates from the University’s sports scholarship programmes will also compete at the Games, including cyclists Finn Crockett (Scotland) and Becky Storrie (Isle of Man); judoka Rachel Tytler (Scotland); netball player Lauren Tait (Scotland); and triathletes Cameron Main and Grant Sheldon (both Scotland).
Crockett, who graduated this summer, said: “You don’t often get to represent Scotland at events, so to be selected for the Games is amazing. I can’t wait to pull on the Scotland gear and represent my country.”
Cathy Gallagher, Executive Director of Sport at the University of Stirling, said: “I am delighted and proud that a record number of University of Stirling athletes have been selected for this summer's Commonwealth Games. This is a special moment in the careers of all those athletes travelling to Birmingham and reflects, not only their hard work and commitment, but also the high level of coaching and support they receive at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence.
“We can't wait for the Games to get under way and are hopeful that our athletes can return to campus with medals round their necks.”
David Bond, Head of Performance Sport at the University, who will be attending the Games in his capacity as a Director with Team Scotland, said: “It’s fantastic that the University of Stirling will be strongly represented across five different nations at Birmingham 2022. Performance sport continues to thrive at the University, which is reflected in the large number of athletes from the institution who will compete at this year’s Commonwealth Games. We wish all of the athletes the very best of luck within their competition and hope they have a brilliant games experience.”
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will run from Thursday 28 July to Monday 8 August.