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27th April 2007 at 01:00
(Photograph) - Young athletes are being offered special workshops in time management and performance assessment to boost their chances of sporting success.

Morag Carmichael, PE teacher and school sports co-ordinator, has adapted a scheme piloted by the Youth Sports Trust in England to help pupils at St Ninian's High in East Renfrewshire balance studies and training.

Miss Carmichael said: "I came across the scheme when I was studying for my postgraduate qualifications in Newcastle and recognised that it was exactly what's needed at a school like St Ninian's.

"Far too often, talented athletes have to choose between their sport and their studies and Scotland loses much athletic talent as a result. With Glasgow's Commonwealth Games bid in mind and the drive to develop Scotland's athletic prowess, the project makes particular sense."

The scheme, which started on Monday, is available to 40 pupils at the school who represent their sport at regional or national level, and are in first to third year. But it is intended to follow the pupils into fourth year.

The initiative involves getting pupils to plan ahead so that future events, such as exams and competitions, do not add further stress. They will also be taught how to assess their sporting performance and how to improve.

John Wilson, East Renfrewshire's director of education, said it was important to develop the full range of talents among young people "without them having to make choices which they may later regret, either in terms of sports development or of their studies."

Among those involved in the scheme are 13-year-old hurdler Paula Houston; Hibs under-15 player Aidan Walker, also 13; West of Scotland under-15 tennis player Jack Hanlon, 12; and champion figure-skater Claire Henry, 14 , all pictured.

Elite athletes will also be assigned a mentor to liaise with teachers, parents and coaches and may be able to work on a reduced timetable.

Derek Casey, director of Glasgow's bid to host the Commonwealth Games in 2014, has backed the scheme. "It's important that we are seen to develop talent as part of the bid process, and here is an ideal way of doing that by supporting the talented athletes of the future across a wide range of sports."

Photograph: Kirk O'RourkeEpicscotland

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