Sports review of the year 2007

21st December 2007 at 00:00
Are these the sports stars of the future? Roddy Mackenzie picks out 10 of Scotland's brightest prospects.


Jade Nimmo

Graeme High, Falkirk

A late starter in athletics, Jade was a gymnast before she joined Falkirk Victoria Harriers, where she is now specialising in the long jump.

She has been taken on by the Central Institute of Sport, which provides her with a support network as she aims at competing possibly in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Jade competed for Great Britain at the World Youth Championships in the Czech Republic last summer and at the Scottish Championships, where she reached 6.13 metres, breaking the Scottish Under-17 record which had stood for 27 years. A month later she improved her personal best by a centimetre.

Now coached by Scottish long jump record-holder Darren Ritchie, she is tipped for a big future.

His success in training her was marked when she was named Bank of Scotland Scottish Under-17 athlete 2007 at the annual Scottish Athletics Federation dinner in November.


Ryan Gordon

Alford Academy, Aberdeenshire

Ryan has been playing golf since the age of three and is the first player to come through every stage of the clubgolf programme, having started with firstclubgolf at primary school in Alford.

He has now been selected for the Scottish Golf Union national academy in Grampian, where he is coached by Neil Marr. He will receive 20 weeks' coaching a year, both on a group and individual basis and will be given advice on technical issues.

Ryan, who also plays for Donside Under-14 football team, has a handicap of 9.7 and has been taken on by the academy a year earlier than is customary.

A member of Alford Golf Club since 1999, he tries to play a few holes every day and has made rapid progress. "His technique is very good," explains Mr Marr. "He has an excellent swing."


Lyndsey MacPherson

Uddingston Grammar, South Lanarkshire

Lyndsey took up judo at the age of five and within three years had won the Scottish Under-12 title and, at the age of 12, the Scottish Under-16 title. She only recently turned 16.

Now competing in the 70kg class, she is a member of the West of Scotland Institute of Sport and is coached by Gary Edwards.

She was placed fifth at the Cadet European Championships in Malta last summer, after reaching number one on the British rankings at cadet level in November 2006. She competed for Great Britain at the European Youth Championships in Belgrade last summer and went on to win the British Under-17 title at Sheffield in October.

"She's the most focused girl I've ever met," says Mr Edwards. "She's the hardest trainer, a complete machine. Of all the athletes I've trained, she's phenomenal. If you ask her to run through a brick wall, she will do it." If she continues her rise, Lyndsey could represent Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics and at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.


Daniel Scott

Glenrothes High, Fife

The highlight of 2007 for Daniel was competing at the European Junior Swimming Championships in Antwerp. He finished ninth in the 50-metre freestyle - a considerable achievement, given that it was his first swim at the championships and he is still eligible for 2008.

He also reached the final of the 50-metres backstroke at the ASA National Championships in Sheffield at senior level, where he came eighth.

Coached at Glenrothes Swimming Club by Dave McLean, Daniel is a member of the Tayside and Fife Institute of Sport, where he has access to high-performance coach Gary Vandermeulen and strength and conditioning coach Gilmour Stevenson.

"Daniel was close to making a final in Antwerp, and coming ninth is pretty amazing," says Mr Vandermeulen, "This was a huge event for him. It's a terrific learning experience. There were only three swimmers his age faster than him, so next year is looking really good."


Jonny O'Mara

Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh

At just 12, Jonny is already showing signs he might follow in the footsteps of Andy Murray. British number one at Under-12 level in 2007, he is a member of Arbroath Lawn Tennis Club, where he has already played for the men's first team.

Jonny played for Great Britain at the Team Europe Cup in Istanbul last summer and made his GB debut in a match against Sweden, when he won his doubles tie 6-0, 6-0, which is one of the highlights of his budding career.

He has stepped up to play in Under-14 competitions on the advice of his coach Mark Walker, in an attempt to get more competitive matches. He also receives coaching from Leon Smith, who worked with Murray in his early years.

Jonny has access to the Tayside and Fife Institute of Sport, where he is monitored by strength and conditioning coach Alan Sinclair.


Kirsty McWilliam

Kilsyth Academy, North Lanarkshire

Kirsty has already made her mark at international level, having won a bronze medal at the European Junior Triathlon Championships in Copenhagen earlier this year and a creditable seventh place at the World Junior Championships in Hamburg in September.

A sixth-year pupil now, she was originally a swimmer and only took up triathlon four years ago. She showed her promise when she won a gold medal at the European Junior Team event in 2005.

She trains 20 hours a week and is a member of the West Institute of Sport, where she has had her running style filmed by the biomechanics staff in order to gain further improvements.

In 2008, Kirsty hopes to attend Stirling University, where Scotland's best triathletes are based. "I really want to be a professional triathlete, and the Olympics and Commonwealth Games are my main goal," she says.


Jennifer Beattie

Jordanhill School, Glasgow

Daughter of former Scotland rugby international John, and sister of current Scotland rugby cap Johnnie, Jennifer's sporting pedigree is not in doubt.

Ever since she captained Glasgow primary schools, she has looked an outstanding prospect and has progressed to represent Scotland at Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 levels. She has scored goals consistently and is highly regarded by her peers.

Jennifer is good with both feet and an excellent all-round player who, according to the national team coaching staff, is technically sound.

"We reckon that if Jennifer continues to apply herself, she could become one of our most successful and talented players," says Sheila Begbie, head of girls' and women's football at the Scottish FA.


Alexandra Dougall

Craigmount High, Edinburgh

A member of the Scotland Under-19 squad, Alexandra is playing her first season at senior club level with Edinburgh Onyx in the National Netball League, alongside Scotland's top netball players. The 17-year-old, who has represented her school, the Edinburgh district and national team at Under-17 level, has impressed both club and national selectors this year.

At 5ft 11in, she has a natural height advantage that makes her stand out on court as goalkeeper and enables her to put pressure on more experienced opponents without being intimidated.

With no major international tournament at age-group level this season, Alexandra's main challenges will be with her club as they look to reach the National Netball League final for the second time. She has already staked her claim to a regular place in the team as part of an Edinburgh Onyx defence that has lost only one league game since September.

"She has made the step up to senior level so well and settled seamlessly into a team alongside older and more experienced players," says coach Darienne Frielick.


Ross Aitken

Bell Baxter High, Fife

A stand-off for his school and for Howe of Fife Under-18 team, Ross is a Scottish Rugby National Junior Academy athlete. He has been involved in national programmes at Under-17 level. He is now looking for Under-18 honours and is connected to the National Sevens training squad.

"Ross has a first-class work ethic, which in this line of business goes a long way," says Colin Robertson, Scottish Rugby's National Academy coach. "However, he has a lot of natural rugby skills, which are great to see and support.

"Ross has a very positive future, and over the next few years it will be interesting to see how he develops. We need stand-offs and Ross is certainly on the right track."

He was originally omitted from the Under-17 squad in 2006-07, but came in late and played in the Millfield International Under-17 festival this year, where his attitude impressed the coaches. He has progressed after working closely with Grant McKelvey, Scottish Rugby's performance development manager for Edinburgh, Midlothian and West Lothian.


Euan Duncan

Prestwick Academy, South Ayrshire

The fifth-year pupil has made his breakthrough in 2007. After representing Scotland North-West at the UK School Games in Coventry in the summer, he was called into Scotland's full international squad for this month's Christmas internationals against England and Northern Ireland in Glasgow - at the age of just 16 years and two months.

The off-setter is 6ft 4in and although volleyball was not his first choice of sport at school, the fact that London won the right to host the 2012 Olympics has meant Euan is now fully focused on the sport.

He started at Prestwick Academy, where volleyball is both a curricular and extra-curricular sport, and went on to play in the junior Scottish League with South Ayrshire, then the senior Scottish League.

"It was clear that Euan had good co-ordination and games sense," says John Orr, his coach at South Ayrshire. "The progress he has made in the past nine months has been huge."

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