Talented athlete support programme success

Athletes of all ages and abilities are representing East Ayrshire in their chosen sport on the national and international stage thanks to the Talented Athlete Support Programme (TASP).

Delivered jointly by the Council and the East Ayrshire Sports Council, the programme seeks applications from local athletes in three distinct categories – developing potential, podium potential and the Special Olympic fund.

Over seventy local athletes are supported by TASP and even though we are just halfway through the year, our athletes have already had some impressive results.

Valerie Martin (52) took first place in the female super veteran category at the Scottish Duathlon Championships held at Stirling University back in April. Val ran 10km, cycled 42km then finished the race with a 5km run, all in a time of just 2 hours 26 minutes.

Val is an exceptional athlete who, throughout her career, has competed in Duathlon Championships and won medals across Europe.

Northwest Amateur Boxing Club and Grange Academy’s Destany Robertson (16) has also had some year. She achieved her goal of becoming Kilmarnock’s first Scottish female champion in March after taking gold at the Scottish Schools and Junior boxing Championships. Then in May, Destany represented Scotland at the GB Youth and Junior Championships in Wales, picking up gold in the 50kg junior category. She has also been training with Team GB at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield this month.

Kilmarnock Acrobatic Gymnastics Club has had a very successful year so far. Gymnasts Kaylie McManus, Logan Strawhorn, Lily Hutchison and Lily McBride have each lifted British and Scottish titles in their chosen disciplines.

The club also performed well at a recent competition in Wales taking gold, silver and bronze medals in a range of categories. The young gymnasts work extremely hard training up to 14 hours a week under the tuition of experienced coaches who all volunteer their time to train the young athletes.

KAGC has been fundraising for an air sprung floor at their club to help improve the performance of their gymnasts. They took part in a charity zip across the Clyde raising £1235 to date. You can still donate to this great club through their just giving page

Meanwhile out at sea, Stewarton’s Rory Mckinna came ninth in the world at the Paraworld Sailing Championships held at Puerto Sherry on the south coast of Spain. He competed against teams from across the world and spent a few days training with the Australian team.

Millie Steiger from Sorn has been selected for the Scottish Senior Women’s Hockey Squad, winning her first senior cap. Millie, who studies at the University of Glasgow, is heading to Stormont with the squad next week for a three match series. This visit will help the team prepare for the Women’s EuroHockey Championship II to be held at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre in August.

Councillor Elena Whitham, Depute Leader, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities said: “Through the Talented Athlete Support Programme (TASP) our athletes are being supported to achieve and reach their full potential within their chosen field. We recognise the enormous effort and substantial personal cost that our local sportspeople commit to attain international and national success within their sport. TASP provides support and financial assistance to our athletes.

“In addition to TASP, the Council has invested in sport infrastructure to ensure that our young people and sportspeople have the very best of facilities available to them. At Stewarton Academy Olympian Rhona Simpson recently opened state of the art hockey pitches. Within the last week, we announced a multimillion-pound refurbishment of the Galleon Centre in Kilmarnock. The Ayrshire Athletics Arena in Kilmarnock is an exceptional facility for athletes and in Cumnock, the new Barony campus, in addition to four new pitches, will have a 400m all-weather four-lane running track with six-lane sprint track that will open later this year.

“I am so proud of our athletes and what they have achieved so far this year. We are helping to create a legacy that everyone in East Ayrshire can be proud of.”