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Thistle award shows healthy growth

The Thistle Award Scheme, to encourage young people in sport, has had a new lease of life since it was rescued by TSB last year and the organisers are having difficulty coping with demand, particularly from those who want guidance in how to run programmes for the scheme.

"We have unsatisfied demand for in-service courses for primary schools, " admitted the scheme's administrator Jeanette Heggie who also confirmed that the number of schools taking part was up.

"A significant number of schools have been selecting parts of the scheme and we have also now prepared the material to suit Standard grade and Higher grade certificate PE courses," she added.

The recent departure of the Scottish Athletics Federation's development officer Graeme Ross, much of whose work was with schools, will not help to address this shortage and so far the federation has not had approval from the Scottish Sports Council to replace him.

In addition the Teamsport Scotland athletics co-ordinator Susan McDonald, who might have helped fill the gap, is now on maternity leave.

Under the Thistle Award Scheme schools and clubs win awards according to the number of points they accumulate. The points are awarded on the basis of performances achieved by individuals compared to their personal best and not for performances on any absolute scale.

TSB have put Pounds 75,000 into the scheme over three years and the deal has another year to run.

The scheme is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and the Olympic 400 metres silver medalist Roger Black was present to make the awards at the Silver Jubilee ceremony at Meadowbank sports centre recently.

Black advised against early specialisation. He said: "Try as many events as you can and see which one you like - I didn't run my first 400 metres until I was 17 or 18," said the man who was beaten only by the remarkable American Michael Johnson over one lap at Atlanta in August.

Award winners were again well spread out geographically with Dalry Primary from Castle Douglas winning the primary schools section from Denholm Primary, Hawick and Crown Primary, Inverness.

St Mungo's Academy, Glasgow won the secondary schools award for boys from Castlehead High, Paisley with Hamilton College third, and Wellington School, Ayr won the secondary girls section from St Mungo's with Castlehead third.

Shetland AAC again won the both the male and female club award from Fraserburgh (men) and Lucozade Motherwell District (women).

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