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Highland athletes receive funding to go the distance thanks to SportScotland

By Will Clark

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FOURTEEN athletes from across the Highlands have been awarded grants from Sportscotland’s Athlete Travel Award Scheme.

Stephen Mackay
Stephen Mackay

The Athlete Travel Award Scheme is a partnership between Sportscotland and participating local authorities - Orkney Islands, Western Isles, Shetland Islands and Highland.

It is aimed at helping elite pathway athletes – athletes with the potential to compete at a high level - to gain better access to competition and training opportunities without having to relocate from their communities.

Athletes can apply for sums up to £1500 through an application process, with athletes required to evidence how the grant will improve their performance, provide them access to quality training and competition opportunities to support their development through their sporting pathway.

Five of the 14 athletes are from Inverness and include Inverness Harriers runners Megan Keith and Stephen Mackay, badminton player Sophie Barrie, golfer Summer Elliot and rugby player Ollie Smith.

Mackay, who has represented Scotland at 3000 metres and is the Inverness Harrier 1500 metres record holder, is in no doubt that this additional support will make a real difference to Highland athletes like himself.

“Being in the north can be a bit of a disadvantage as straightaway you’ve got that additional cost to get down the road which you maybe don’t have if you are based in the central belt.

“So, this funding makes it easier to get to competitions and get to the level of training camp that we need to as full-time athletes.

“As an endurance runner you need to spend a couple of months at altitude so next month, I should be going to Flagstaff in Arizona to train with Jake Wightman so that is a major cost – maybe £2000 to £3000 per camp – the funding I have been given covers a big percentage of that so it’s crucial for us.”

The 14 athletes are listed below.

Stephen Mackay, Athletics, based in Inverness

Summer Elliot, Golf, based in Inverness

Sophie Barrie, Badminton, home base Inverness

Shannon Pasotti, Rugby, based in Caithness

Ollie Smith, Rugby, based in Inverness

Megan Keith, Athletics and Orienteering, based in Inverness

Mark Boyd, Surfing, based in Thurso

Lucas Cairns, Athletics, based in Fortrose

Jack Mann, Golf, based in Avoch / Ross and Cromarty

Douglas Goodwill, Downhill Mountain Biking, based in Beauly

Danial Parfitt, Downhill Mountain Biking, based in Fort William

Craig McLachlan, Surfing, based in Thurso

Alice Kemsley, Orienteering, based in Nethybridge

Alexander Mackay, Athletics, based in Dingwall

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