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Laurels to Scotland's best

Roddy Mackenzie tracks down some of this year's young sports stars


Mark Squire George Watson's College, Edinburgh

Mark, a sixth-year pupil, only took up American football two years ago but has all the attributes to make it in the game, according to Scotland's most successful player, Scott Couper of the Scottish Claymores. The wide receiver is a member of the Claymores' development squad and has already played at full international level for Scotland.

"He is a great prospect and has a lot of potential. His attitude is first class and he has come on ten-fold in the couple of years that I've been working with him," says Couper. "He has great hands, is a great listener and has taken everything we have said on board. Another important thing is his size. He is 6ft and over 13 stone."


Jill Lando Dalziel High, North Lanarkshire

Jill won the prestigious Gordon Woodlands Award for the most outstanding female performer of the year in Scottish schools athletics and received pound;500 towards training and competition expenses.

She captained both the Scottish schools' cross country and track and field teams and won a silver medal in the 800 metres at the British schools international in Blackpool with an excellent time of 2 min 10.70 sec. She won the Scottish schools 800m title in 2:16.98 and also the under-16 gold for 800m at the British indoor international in 2:14.74.

She is regarded as an athlete with huge potential, having won three Scottish schools' international vests in 2000 at indoor, outdoor and cross country. She was 16th in the cross country international against England, Wales and Ireland last winter.


Gareth Murray Arbroath High, Angus

The 17-year-old guard is regarded as one of the brightest prospects in Scottish basketball. He played a big part in the national under-16 team, winning the European Promotions Cup in Malta this year under coach John Anton (Carnoustie High), where he was Scotland's "most valuable player". Coached by John Grant at Arbroath High, he has also spent time at coaching camps in the United States.

Gareth is, at 6ft 3in, not the biggest of players but he has good ball skills and reads the game well. If he continues his current rate of progress, he could go on to represent Scotland at junior and full international level.


Robbie Foy Firrhill High, Edinburgh

Robbie has recently signed an "S" form with Liverpool and has impressed in his second season in the Scottish Schoolboys' Under-15 squad after he was promoted from the under-14 national side. Although the under-15 team lost two of their three Victory Shield matches, Foy has been a consistent performer and scored in a 2-1 win over Switzerland in October.

"Robbie is a very quick and alert forward," said under-15 coach Billy Henderson. "He's good on the ball and is more a penalty box striker.

"He was promoted from the under-14 squad last year to play in the Ballymena tournament for the under-15 squad. He has a chance to make it in the game. He has a high work rate and always likes to be in the thick of things."


Edward Shannly Linlithgow Academy, West Lothian

Edward, a fourth-year pupil, won the inaugural BP Skills Test Championship at the Scottish National Golf Centre in October.

Eleven schoolchildren came through heats to the final, which was set up by the SNGC to encourage more youngsters to take up the game. Finalists were given points based on their driving, putting, chipping and bunker shots and then graded for accuracy. Edward, who has a handicap of five and is a member of Linlithgow Golf Club, finished with 57 points.

"The standard of golf was extremely high and the final was very close," said Gordon Murray of the Scottish Golf Union.

Golf clubs from across Scotland were given the chance to send 10 juniors to the SNGC for coaching and nominate one to undergo the skills challenge.


Stephen Dick Balwearie High, Fife

Stephen is already starting to get headlines in the Scottish press for playing senior national league hockey, indoors and outdoors, in spite of the fact that he is only 15 and his school does not play boys' hockey.

He helped Inverleith win the RAF Careers Youth Cup this season and earlier this month gave the club its first indoor win of the season when he scored 90 seconds from time in a 3-2 win over Clydesdale.

An established member of Scotland youth international squads, Stephen plays in midfield or up front and regularly faces players more than twice his age. He is so highly thought of at the club that he takes their penalty flicks. A strong, robust player, he is not easily knocked off the ball and shows good stick-work.


Jonathan White Dollar Academy, Clackmannanshire

An open-sided flanker, Jonathan is in his third season in the first XV at Dollar Academy, who are unbeaten this season. A member of the Scottish Rugby Union's academy, he attends weekly power training sessions which supplement his work in the school gym.

Jonathan was in the Scotland under-16 schools' team in fourth year and the under-18 team by fifth year. He played in a team from P7 to S3 which lost only one game "He has a great attitude and is capable of becoming a professional rugby player," said Dollar Academy coach John Foster. "He wants to play for Scotland and will do anything within his power to make it happen."

Mr Foster arranged for him to spend a week's work experience with the Caledonian Reds this month to give him an insight into what professional rugby is about.


Pamela Thorburn Glasgow Academy

Pamela won the John Hynes Trophy this year for the most promising Scottish racer at under-14 level. She is a member of the Scotland team which will travel to the World Schools Ski Championships at Pralognan, France, in March.

Pamela has been her own school champion for the past three years and is equally at home on snow and dry slopes. She is a former Scottish Schools' Under-14 Dry Slope Champion and, in her age group, holds the Scottish title for slalom on dry slope and the British combined title on snow. She is currently a member of the British children's squad, which attends international races.

The next stage for Pamela is to tackle junior and then senior racing at regional, national and international levels and she has the potential to progress to the Scotland team and the British youth team.


Louise Coull St Maurice's High, North Lanarkshire

Louise is a Scottish junior record holder, was a bronze medallist at last year's European junior championships in Moscow and is now a Scottish senior international.

She is the outstanding backstroke swimmer at junior level in Britain. The 16-year-old is the current Scottish record holder at junior and senior level for the 200 metres backstroke (long course) and junior record-holder for the 100m backstroke, also long course.

A member of Scotland's elite group of 18 swimmers selected for the Scottish Institute last year, she will benefit from the opening of the new National Swimming Academy at Stirling University. The average age of the Scotland swimming team at the last Commonwealth Games was 20 and Louise will be hoping to make Scotland's team for the next Games in Manchester in 2002.


Nicola Allan Jordanhill School, Glasgow

Nicola has enjoyed a remarkable year and won the national under-13 titles in singles and doubles in Bournemouth. Coached by Leon Smith, the 13-year-old is tipped for a big future and is a member of the Great Britain squad for her age group.

Although tennis is a sport where players who shine at an early age can find it difficult to sustain the commitment to maintain their ranking in the senior age groups, Karen Ross, the Scottish Lawn Tennis Association's performance officer, believes Nicola can do well in the game.

"She has good depth to her shots, is very good at ground shots and is mentally very tough when it comes to a match," Miss Ross says. "She really is a tough competitor and digs in for every point and that will serve her very well in the future."


Craig Allardyce Stonelaw High, South Lanarkshire

A member of the Scotland junior national squad, 17-year-old Craig is tipped for a big future in the game.

He was a member of the Glasgow team that won the Scottish junior national league last season. He also attended the World Youth Games in London. Now he is playing Scottish League third division with the Glasgow Mets.

"At 6ft tall, he is not a giant in a volleyball context but he jumps well, has a lot of power and has the capacity to do very well in the game," says Glasgow development officer and Scotland captain Iain Grubb. "He has the potential to go on to play for Scotland at senior level if he keeps up his current rate of progress."

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