Forget the ball, keep an eye on these stars

Roddy Mackenzie shines a spotlight on some of Scotland's rising young sports personalities


David Martin Douglas Academy, Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire

Hurdler David has had a memorable year and to top it all was named Bank of Scotland under-17 male athlete of the year.

In June, he won the 400m hurdles title at the Scottish Schools Track and Field Championships at Grangemouth in 54.46 seconds, which was more than three seconds ahead of the second-placed athlete and eclipsed the time recorded by Kris Robertson (Bishopbriggs High), who won the senior title at the distance.

David, who competes for the Victoria Park club, won the AAA under-17 title in the summer. He also triumphed in the Celtic Games in Carmarthen in August, when he took the under-17 400m hurdles title ahead of Northern Ireland's Chris Quinn.

David is currently second in the all-time Scottish age group rankings with a best of 53.11 seconds.


Aman Bailwal High School of Dundee

Aman is seen as an exceptional all-round talent. He is a quick left-arm bowler and a decent middle-order batsman and has the potential to go on to represent Scotland at senior level.

He captained Scotland's under-13s at the European Championships, scoring 54 off 25 deliveries against Denmark and 71 against the Netherlands on a tough pitch.

"He is an exceptional all-round talent who bowls deceptively fast, sometimes too quick for the batsman and wicket-keeper at that age," says coach Gordon Drummond. "He also bowls with the control and tactical awareness of a player above his age bracket. He took four wickets in the European Championships.

"Aman has great enthusiasm for the game and I'm sure he will be a Scotland star in the future."


Craig Simmonds Clyde Valley High, Wishaw, North Lanarkshire

Currently a member of both the Scotland and Glasgow under-18 squads, Craig has already broken into the Dalziel HSFP first team and is tipped for a big future in rugby.

Playing at number eight, he is a powerfully built 17-year-old, a strong ball-carrier who uses his strength well and has worked hard at his fitness to cope with the demands of national league rugby.

His attitude has impressed Scottish Rugby Union coaches and he is tipped to go on to represent Scotland at under-19 level and possibly senior level.


Hannah Miley Inverurie Academy, Aberdeenshire

Sixteen-year-old Hannah will swim for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in March. She made her senior international debut for Great Britain at the European Short Course Championships in Trieste this month, where she broke the Scottish record (twice) in the 400m individual medley.

She ultimately finished sixth in the final in 4 minutes 37.12 seconds, which shaved more than three seconds off the previous Scottish mark.

Earlier in the year, as part of the British team at the European Junior Championships in Budapest, she won a silver medal for the 400m individual medley.

She also won a bronze medal at the British Long Course Championships over the same distance.

Hannah swims for the Garioch club and is coached by her father, Patrick.


Rebecca Russell Grangemouth High, Falkirk

It has been a breakthrough year for Rebecca, as she won the Scottish senior table tennis title against all the odds at the age of 14 in March, becoming Scotland's youngest senior champion for more than 10 years.

In a marathon final against Aberdeen's Stephanie Matthew, she was leading 3-0 games and was 10-7 in the fourth, with three match points, before her opponent came back to win the game and take the next two. In a tense final game, Rebecca showed her qualities by recovering to win 11-7 and secure her first senior title.

She also won the Scottish under-15 title last March and triumphed in the Scottish Schools Championships, where she won the under-16 title by beating Dollar Academy's Corinna Whitaker in the final.


Joanna Henderson Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen

Only 12, Joanna had the chance to play in front of 3,000 spectators at the Aberdeen Cup earlier this month, when she represented Scotland juniors against England on the same bill as Andy Murray.

She made her mark by defeating top English junior Clare Sawyer 11-4 in a tie-break scoring system, thus helping Scotland to overall victory.

At a time when the Scottish men's game has never been stronger, Joanna has been making inroads in the junior game and her progress has earmarked her for Lawn Tennis Association funding as one of the most promising young players in Britain.

Coached by Kris Soutar, she finished 2005 by representing Scotland at the tri-nations event against Ireland and Wales at Scotstoun two weeks ago.


Callum Green Grange Academy, Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire

Callum, who is a member of Scotland's Young Senior squad, is set to follow in the footsteps of his father, Brian, who played volleyball at full international level for his country.

Just 16, Callum is already 6ft 5in and Scotland coach Tommy Dowens believes: "He has the makings to become a superstar in our sport.

"We took him down to Upper Heyford (in Oxfordshire) this year with the full Scotland squad and he came on leaps and bounds."

Currently playing alongside his father in the Scottish League third division with Kilmarnock II, the outside hitter is holding his own at national league level and his team is on the fringes of promotion.


Kenny Bain Glasgow School of Sport

Kenny has made his mark for his school, club and country in 2005 and his achievements were recognised at national level when he was the only Scot to be short-listed for the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year. (Former Dunblane High pupil Andy Murray won the title in 2004 for his tennis achievements and this year was named the BBC Scotland Sports Personality of the Year.)

Selected by Scotland's under-16 team at the age of 13, Kenny has stepped up this year and been named in the under-18 and under-21 hockey squads, in spite of being only 15.

In European hockey's A division, he finished top scorer, with six goals in five matches.

A former pupil of Paisley Grammar, he moved to the Glasgow School of Sport to further his sporting career. He plays regularly for his club, Kelburne, and will play for the club in next year's European Club Championship.


Laura Murray Alford Academy, Aberdeenshire

Laura, 17, who plays off a handicap of two, has had an outstanding year, winning the Scottish Schoolgirls' Championship at St Andrews Bay in June and selected for the Scottish schools against the English schools.

She represented Scotland at the European Young Champions Trophy match on the Isle of Man, in which 17 countries competed, and came ninth in the girls' event. A member of the Grampian Institute of Sport, she has ambitions to play on the European tour.


Natalie Ross Ellon Academy, Aberdeenshire

At 16, Natalie (below, wearing number 4) has already played for Scotland's under-17 and under-19 teams. She represented the under-19s in the UEFA Championship qualifiers in England in September and is expected to be in the squad for the final qualifying round in Slovenia in April, before the finals in July.

Natalie, who plays for Hibernian in the Scottish Women's Premier League, will get the chance to test her skills against Germany, the Republic of Ireland and Slovenia in April.

The Scotland under-19 team's coach, Tony Gervaise, believes Natalie has what it takes to go on and make her mark in the full Scotland team. "She played in all of the UEFA qualifying matches in England and made an excellent contribution," he says.

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