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Sporting prowess looks set to span the generations

With outstanding achievements in the Olympics and Paralympics, 2012 was a momentous year for Scottish sport, but beneath the top tier a young generation of stars was also tasting early victories in the world arena. Roddy Mackenzie reports

With outstanding achievements in the Olympics and Paralympics, 2012 was a momentous year for Scottish sport, but beneath the top tier a young generation of stars was also tasting early victories in the world arena. Roddy Mackenzie reports

Table Tennis

Christopher Wheeler, Braes High, Falkirk

Thirteen-year-old Christopher is considered to be one of Scotland's hottest prospects in years and his fame is now reaching new horizons.

The country's leading cadet player, he was selected to play for the prestigious Werner Schlager Academy based in Vienna, after impressing at trials in April in Barcelona.

He went on to play for the academy at the Serbian Junior and Cadet Open and his progress will be closely monitored. In a busy year, he helped Scotland to fourth place at the UK School Games in London and played for Middlesbrough-based Ormesby in the British Junior League.

He helped Scotland to win a silver medal in the team event at the British Schools Championships in June and was a semi-finalist in the cadet consolation event at the French Junior Open earlier in the year.


Katie Barbour, Marr College, South Ayrshire

Seventeen-year-old Katie (S6) has enjoyed a highly successful year, the highlight of which was helping Scotland to a silver medal in the under-18 European Championships for Small Countries.

An outside hitter and passer for her school and her club, Troon Team Ayrshire, which is currently top of the Scottish League, she has been a huge influence in Marr College, reaching the finals of the Junior National League.

In addition, she has won a "golden ball" at each of the last two UK School Games, meaning she was one of the best six players in the tournament, and is now a starting six player with Troon.

"Katie is a dedicated volleyballer who is developing excellent technique in both hitting and passing," says Vince Krawczyk, her club coach. "In addition to this, her keen reading of the positional play in defence means she has the potential to become a very successful player both in the UK and abroad."


Andrew Mullen, Mearns Castle High, East Renfrewshire

At 15, Andrew was the youngest male member of the Great Britain aquatics paralympic team at London 2012 this summer.

In his first Paralympics, he reached all three finals of the individual events he entered - S5 50-metre butterfly (fourth), S5 50-metre backstroke (fourth) and S5 50-metre freestyle (eighth).

It followed a successful 2011, in which he won individual silver and bronze medals at the European Championships in Berlin.

His aim for 2013 is to make the GB team for the World Championships in Canada in August. He is also looking ahead to the World Championships in Glasgow in 2015 and possibly medalling at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

"Andrew has been an inspiration to swimmers with both Olympic and Paralympic aspirations," says Andy Jackson, his coach. "His attitude is exceptional - he is dedicated, driven and has great attention to detail. Every session counts for Andrew and he leaves no stone unturned in his pursuit of his goals.

"In 2012, he achieved his objective of making ParalympicsGB team and only narrowly missed out on a podium finish in his top two events. Focus has very much moved to Rio now, with a new four-year training plan in place and everything gearing towards getting on the Podium in 2016."


Michael Schinkel, Kirkwall Grammar, Orkney

Michael took up golf only five years ago but, at 15, has already been selected to join the Scottish Golf National Academy, the first player from Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles to be chosen.

He started playing regularly in competitions in 2009 and his results were such that he was selected for professional coaching under Stuart Morrison, PGA Pro at Tain Golf Club and for strength and conditioning at the sportscotland Institute of Sport.

He was selected for the Scottish Golf Union North district squad and he now attends regular performance and assessment days at the Paul Lawrie Centre in Aberdeen.

"I would really like to become professional; it's a big ask, but that's what I really want to do," says Michael. "Being selected for the national academy is just what I need to take my game to the next level."


John McCall, Lenzie Academy, East Dunbartonshire

John was voted under-18 male athlete of the year at the Scottish Athletics Federation's annual awards - recognition of the progress the hurdler has made.

He represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2011 and this year struck gold indoors in the 60m hurdles at the Scottish Schools' Indoor Championships and followed it up by winning the 110m hurdles title at the outdoor championships in the summer term.

John was fifth in the UK Indoor Championships and, in August, he was named Scotland captain for the Celtic Games international event. He also delivered on a personal basis with a championship record, beating the mark he himself had set the previous year.


Ali Collins, Beaconhurst School, Stirling

Twelve-year-old Ali, from Dunblane, trains at the Scottish National Tennis Centre in Stirling and is rated as one of the brightest prospects in the Scottish game.

In 2012, she won the Scottish indoor title at under-14 level and triumphed at the prestigious Winter National Tournament in Nottinghamshire, where she won the under-12 singles.

She was runner-up in the younger age-group at the Aegon Clay Court Championships and went on to gain her first international titles in 2012.

She won the girls' singles under-12 competition at the Riga Open in Latvia and partnered Alexandra Hunter to success in the doubles.

Ali reached the last eight of the under-14 singles at the Gran Canaria Yellow Bowl in Spain and was invited to join the British team for the under-12 Summer Cup in Holland.


Gregor Gray, North Berwick High, East Lothian

Gregor completed a memorable year by being named in the British squad for this month's Youth Olympics in Australia.

The 16-year-old guardforward plays for Edinburgh and Scotland at under-18 level and has been reselected for the national squad for 2013.

He was a key player in the Edinburgh Kings Cadets' unbeaten season last year - leading his team to league, Scottish Cup and play-off victories.

Gregor represented Scotland at the European Championships at under-16 and under-18 levels. At the Euro "C" Championships in 2012, the Scotland under-16s finished second and Gregor made the all-star tournament team.

"Gregor is an outstanding young talent who represented Scotland at under-18 level at the Euro "B" event in Sarajevo in summer 2012, when he was only 15," points out Jim Wright, Edinburgh Kings' under-18 coach and Scotland under-18 assistant coach.

"On the domestic front, he has played with his own age group and stepped up to play with the City of Edinburgh Kings Senior Men team as part of his continuing commitment to his own personal development pathway."


Calum Michael, St Joseph's College, Dumfries and Galloway

Sixteen-year-old Calum is a member of Dumfries Schools Rowing Association and has had an outstanding year.

He won two gold medals and three silvers at the 2012 Scottish Rowing Championships and a silver medal at the British Rowing Championships in the Under-18 coxless four.

He was selected to represent Scotland in three under-18 events (junior men's double scull, coxless four and quadruple scull) at the 2012 Home International Regatta in Cardiff.

He attended Great Britain team trials for the first time in November 2012, finishing 57th out of 136, which is an excellent result, given that he has another season after this at junior level.

He was selected by the GB Rowing Team to attend a junior training camp in Nantes, France, in December 2012.


Emily Newlands, Selkirk High, Scottish Borders

Sixteen-year-old Emily plays for Borders Fjordhus Reivers first XI and was fast-tracked to the Scotland under-18 squad at the age of 15.

Last June, she toured with Scotland under-16 squad and played against Germany, Holland and Belgium. She also toured Ireland with the under-18 squad, where she hit her first international goal.

She played against Wales, Ireland and Switzerland in the Celtic Cup under-18 tournament in July.

In 2012, she was named Borders' under-18 player of the year, club junior player of the year and was senior sports champion at Selkirk High. She was reselected for the under-18 team in September and has been invited by senior coaches to attend under-21 and senior squad performance sessions.

Her target for 2013 is to play for Scotland under-18s at the European Championships in Spain and the ultimate aim is to win senior honours for Scotland and Great Britain.


Jamie Calder, Balerno High, Edinburgh

Jamie, 14, has twice been selected to the Optimist Worlds team, once competing in New Zealand and once in the Dominican Republic.

He finished a creditable 88th at the World Championships in the Optimist class and ninth in the Delta Lloyd International Regatta Optimist Class.

At the National Championships, he placed fourth in the Optimist class and was also first in the Laser 4.7 Ladder Oxford, second in the Laser 4.7 Ladder Rutland and first in the Laser 4.7 Inland Championships.

"Jamie is a rare breed of sailor," says Nick Scott, high performance manager at the Royal Yachting Association Scotland. "He is someone who is so dedicated and committed to improving himself that he leaves no stone unturned.

"Coaching a young athlete is made easy when they are always looking for the next thing to make them better, and I have no doubt that Jamie is on the fast track to success if he keeps up his current levels of hard work and commitment."

Winners and Alma Maters

Scotland's Olympic medallists at London 2012 and the schools they attended:

Canoeing Tim Baillie (Westhill Academy, Aberdeenshire), David Florence (Stewart's Melville College, Edinburgh)

Cycling Sir Chris Hoy (George Watson's College, Edinburgh)

Equestrian Scott Brash (Peebles High, Scottish Borders)

Hockey Laura Bartlett (Glasgow Academy), Emily Maguire (Paisley Grammar, Renfrewshire)

Rowing Katherine Grainger (Bearsden Academy, East Dunbartonshire), Heather Stanning (Gordonstoun, Moray)

Sailing Luke Patience (Hermitage Academy)

Swimming Michael Jamieson (Glasgow School of Sport, Bellahouston Academy)

Tennis Andy Murray (Dunblane High).

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