The Samoa six – graphic by Bobby Gavin
Team Scotland take flight this weekend for the forthcoming Commonwealth Youth Games with six track and field athletes preparing for the long journey.
Four young Scots – George Evans, Ben Greenwood, Cameron Tindle and Carys McAulay – have already competed at the World Youths in Cali, Colombia, earlier in the summer.
Now that quartet will be joined by Rachel Alexander and Alisha Rees for the trip, which includes a stop-over in New Zealand, en route to Samo for the event which takes place September 5-12 and pitches Scotland against the best young athletes in the Commonwealth.
Evans, of course, came home from South America with a bronze medal in the discus and can’t wait for the Commonwealth Youth Games.
‘I am really looking forward to it now and the whole experience should be great,’ said George.
‘The World Youths was just mind-blowing in terms of the size of the event; the level of competition; being away with the GB squad and throwing in front of a crowd of more than 10,000 in the stadium in Cali.
‘I loved it and learned so much. When we gathered to head to South America, I think I knew the other three Scots and one of the other throwers. By the time we came home, you had 25 new friends.
‘The event really was huge, with the best in the world taking part. We’d a warm-up track area and then a bus to the main stadium for the Call Room – it was all on a different scale to what I’ve been used to it.
‘To medal at that was great and way beyond my expectations. I was looking to make the final and then maybe, within myself, thinking about and hoping for top eight.’
Flying the flag – Ben Greenwood, George Evans and Cameron Tindle
Having pulled on the GB kit in Colombia, now it is as part of Team Scotland for the CYG that the Inverness Harriers athlete will compete in the discus and the shot putt.
‘It is different again because the team here is multi-sports and we’ve that long journey ahead of us,’ he said.
‘I think we are travelling for something like 59 hours with a stop-over in Auckland for about 24 hours. I’m certainly getting to see the world with my athletics this summer.
‘With both the shot and discus this time, there’s more competition time for me but the schedule isn’t too bad – although I do throw the shot at 8.30am one morning!
‘I am highly ranked but I’ve learned that it all comes down to how you perform on the day. I was a metre short of my PB in the discus at the World Youths but I was happy enough with that in the competitions conditions there and happily it was enough for me get that bronze.’
Evans, who is coached by Colin McCulloch, sees the Samoa trip as another huge learning curve – and even plans to pick the brains of his Team Scotland team-mates.
‘It is a multi-sport selection and everybody will have different approaches to their training, their diet and their rehab according to their sport,’ he said.
‘But issues likes nutrition aren’t confined to one sport. And there are weight-lifting guys going who are bound to know about lifting and conditioning and that kind of thing.
‘So I think for those of us from track and field there are real opportunities for to learn from others and I will try and take the chance to do that.’
Rachel Alexander – great jump at Grangemouth
George threw as a guest at the Age Group Champs but three of his team-mates were in fine form. Cameron Tindle picked up a sprint double while Ben Greenwood won the U17 800m on the Saturday and then followed that with silver in the U20 1500m on Sunday.
And Rachel Alexander soared to a 6.05m windy long jump that was a championship best in the U20 category even though she is 17.
Good luck to our six athletes headed to the Commonwealth Youth Games from everyone at scottishathletics.
Performance Manager Mark Pollard is travelling with the Scotland team.