Hottest prospects in Scottish sports

28th December 2001, 12:00am
Roddy Mackenzie


Hottest prospects in Scottish sports
2001 has seen some remarkable performances from school-age sports players. Roddy Mackenzie hands out laurels to his pick of the up and coming stars

ATHLETICS: Morag MacLarty Perth High, Perth and Kinross

It has been another outstanding year for this 15-year-old Perth High pupil, who is noted for turning up to athletics events in a Rangers strip, has played for Scotland's schoolgirls' football team and is also gifted academically. Morag has yet to choose which career path she will go down.

Morag won the 800m and 1,500m double at the Scottish Schools' Track and Field Championships and picked up the TSB trophy for the most meritorious 800m performance. She also managed the same double at the British Schools International, where she set a new British schools record of 2 min 4 sec for 800m.

Morag also runs cross-country but her hopes of adding to her considerable honours were rather scuppered by the fact that the schools' programmes were devastated by the foot and mouth crisis.

"There is plenty of time for her to decide which sport to focus on as she is not 16 until February," points out Linda Trotter, secretary of the Scottish Schools Athletic Association.

FOOTBALL: Steven Campbell Auchmuty High, Glenrothes, Fife

Steven has been one of the successes of Scotland's under-16 schoolboys' team this season. The Auchmuty High pupil is an "S" Form signing with Rangers and has shown he has the potential to make the grade at professional level if he keeps up his present rate of progress.

Strong in the tackle, skilful on the ball and precise with his distribution, Steven has shown he can play in a number of positions. He scored in the Victory Shield match against Wales and notched a double in the final game of the competition against England at Dingwall after moving into midfield. Steven is useful in the air even though he is not the tallest of players: he headed all three of his Victory Shield goals.

Unfortunately, Auchmuty High did not fare too well in the first round of the Bank of Scotland Under-15 Shield this season, crashing out 10-0 to Falkirk's St Mungo's High in the first round.

GOLF: Carly Booth St Dominics Primary, Crieff, Perth and Kinross

At just nine years old, Carly has already captured some newspaper headlines. When she earned a ladies' handicap of 20 at the age of eight, it was thought she was the youngest player in the world to achieve such a figure. Now she plays off a handicap of 17.

Carly, who usually plays at the golf club in Comrie, was second in the Grampian TV challenge at Letham Grange, where she finished on 13 over par.

A pupil at St Dominic's Primary in Crieff, Carly is a talented sporting all-rounder. She is also in the Scotland under-10 gymnastics development squad.

Her older brother, Wallace, is also an accomplished golfer, playing off a handicap of two. The 16-year-old pupil at Morrisons Academy, in Crieff, is in the Scotland under-18 squad and has ambitions to become a professional golfer. He played in the European Schools event at St Andrew's, against Sweden, Norway, England and Wales, and was unbeaten in his four matches, winning two and tying two.

GYMNASTICS: Shereen Gibson Scottish School of Sport, Bellahouston Academy, Glasgow

The 13-year-old pupil at the Scottish School of Sport attached to Bellahouston Academy has had a breakthrough year. She won the Scottish junior gymnastics title in June and in September lead Scotland to victory in the girls' under-13 event at the Celtic Cup in Perth.

Shereen won the individual event with a total of 34.270 points and came out top in three of the four disciplines (bars, beam and floor) and was second in the vault. It helped Scotland edge out Northern Ireland, Wales and Eire to win.

Now ranked seventh in Great Britain in her age-group, Shereen hopes to compete for Scotland in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in the summer.

Shereen took up the sport at the age of eight and won her age-groups at under-10 and under-12 national levels before capturing the Scottish junior title. She is ambitous to realise her full potential in the sport and currently practises for four hours a day, six days a week. Her target is to one day compete at the Olympic Games.

HOCKEY: Stephen Dick Balwearie High, Kirkcaldy, Fife

One of the hottest prospects in Scottish hockey today is the 16-year-old pupil at Balwearie High in Kirkcaldy. Stephen has helped Inverleith, his Scottish League side, win the RAF Careers Under-18 Cup for the past four years and has represented Scotland at under-16 level. He can look forward to more caps in 2002.

Stephen can play in midfield or as a forward. His playing was one of the reasons that Inverleith managed to avoid relegation from division one of the Scottish League last season, along with the talent of his older brother Alan, a student at Fife College, who plays in goal for the Edinburgh side.

Stephen is regarded as a future Scotland international player but over the next few months his priority will be at club level. His team faces another battle to hold on to itstop division status.

RUGBY: Ross Ford Kelso High, Scottish Borders

Ross played for the Scotland Under-18 rugby team last year and, although still eligible, he has been promoted to the under-19 national squad and looks set for a big future in the game. The Kelso High pupil has already played for the Kelso first team in the Scottish Premiership Division Two.

"He just has great potential," said Colin Thomson, the age-grade rugby development officer at the Scottish Rugby Union. "He is physically well developed as he has put a lot of work into that side of his game. He also has good hands for a big guy and is a good ball passer, so he has a lot of the necessary attributes to do well in the game."

TABLE TENNIS: Gavin Rumgay Perth Academy, Perth and Kinross

Gavin is Scotland's top-ranked junior table tennis star and last month was voted Regional Young Sportsperson of the Year, receiving his award from the Minister of Sport, Richard Caborn, in London.

The sixth-year pupil at Perth Academy has a place as a member of Scotland's team for the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. He won the recent Top 12 tournament in Glasgow in the absence of the national number one player, Euan Walker, when he beat the best of the rest in Scotland. The tournament is used for ranking purposes by the game's governing body, Table Tennis Scotland. Gavin, who has a powerful forehand, is now ranked number two at senior level.

Gavin has already represented Scotland at senior level, although he is still eligible to play in the Scottish Schools' Championships in Perth in March and in the British Schools' Championships.

Gavin comes from a sporting family. His mother, Joy, played badminton for Scotland and now his 13-year-old sister, Laura, is a good table tennis prospect.

TENNIS: Andy Murray Dunblane High, Stirling

Finishing number two in the European Tennis Association rankings for his age-group and as a runner-up in the under-14 event at the World Indoor Tennis Championships are just some of the remarkable results Andy has put together in 2001. The third-year pupil at Dunblane High also won the British under-15 tennis singles and doubles titles.

Andy is one of the best young players Scotland has produced in recent years, along with his older brother James, who is in fifth year at Dunblane High.

In the new year, the intention is to expose Andy to more International Tennis Federation ranking tournaments at senior level and to play in more under-18 events to build up his experience and familiarity with the speed of the men's game.

There is also the possiblity of a trip to Italy in May to play in a world under-16 tournament which attracts the best players from Europe and South America.

Andy has been working recently with Autralian coach Peter McNamara, who won the Wimbledon doubles title in 1982, and is based near Luton, Bedfordshire.

VOLLEYBALL: Paul Glissov Holy Rood High, Edinburgh

Paul is regarded as one of the outstanding young talents in Scottish volleyball. The 17-year-old Holy Rood High pupil stands 6ft 7in tall and Scotland coach Tommy Dowens believes he will go on to play for Scotland at full international level before long.

An outside spiker, Paul plays for City of Edinburgh in the third division of the Scottish League. In a sport where height is a considerable asset, Paul has been one of the reasons why the team has made such good progress in the past couple of years.

"He is an outstanding athlete and has been a real find," says Mr Dowens. "He is likely to be part of the national team training squad this season. He has a good attitude to the game and we have really high hopes for him for the future if he can stick with it."

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