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Celebrating young people in sport

Ahead of the Young Scot Awards 2022, we spoke with the sport category nominees

The Sunday Mail Young Scot Awards were launched in 2006 to celebrate the achievements and impact made by young people in Scotland. This year, the awards evening will take place on Wednesday 27 April 2022 at the EICC in Edinburgh.

As proud sponsors of the ‘Sport’ category we caught up with three of the nominees whose talent and determination has already led to them achieving great things in sport.

Hailey Duff

Hailey started curling when she was just eight years old after her dad asked if she wanted to try a sport he had played when he was younger.

“When I first started, I just loved sliding up and down the ice. Now I love how the sport combines skill and strategy”.

Hailey told us about her passion for curling because it involves a small team and in order to be successful, the team have to bond well and really support one another.

One of Hailey’s favourite things about curling is that it is a great sport for any ability. She says, “It is not unusual to see world class players competing alongside beginners in local club games during the week which makes curling pretty unique”. Hailey continues to play with her dad in club league games and used to compete with him in the Scottish Mixed Doubles Championships!

Following Olympic Gold Medal success at the Beijing 2022 games, Hailey is looking forward to competing in her first Grand Slam Curling event in Canada (which will be finished by the time of the Young Scot Awards evening – best of luck Hailey!).

Neil & Andrew Simpson

Neil and Andrew got into skiing because their parents ski and wanted them to be able to go on family ski holidays together – “we both started in Scotland on dry ski slopes and at the Lecht and Glenshee”.

Having overcome a few injuries in the last few years, as well as Covid-19, the brothers struck Paralympic gold in Super G at Beijing 2022 and are very much looking forward to the Sweden World Championships 2023, where they say they will try and improve on their last World Championship performance. They both admit to loving the competitive aspect of the sport and improving on their own skiing.

“We enjoy the exhilaration and trying to be as fast as possible”.

Neil and Andrew’s relationship during training and when competing is very important, “it is effectively a team sport with both roles being just as important in the final result”.

Millie Boo Smith

Millie Boo started riding in 2014 initially as therapy to help with her muscle tone and balance, and to try and help her cope with having cerebral palsy. Millie was born 14 weeks premature in 2006 weighing just 1 pound 12 ounces and her parents had looked into what exercise could help and were attracted to equine therapy. What started as simply riding around in a circle, led Millie Boo to finding a love of dressage and competing.

“When you are on a horse you are high up from the ground, you can see more, you feel the wind around you and feel free”.

Millie Boo tells us that horses make her feel strong, determined and that she can do anything when riding. The thrill of competing and riding in front of other riders and spectators, dressed in competition gear is where Millie Boo’s passion for riding comes from. Millie Boo also feels that when she is on a horse she doesn’t see her disability, she can ride like other able bodied riders and the horse feels what Millie Boo feels.

Millie Boo told us that her biggest achievement was being nominated for and subsequently winning RDA Participant of the Year in 2021 - she was presented the award in Warwick at the RDA National Training Centre by Princess Anne!

What next…? Millie Boo would like to qualify for the RDA Nationals in Hartpury this year and improve on her 4th place finish in 2017. Ultimately Millie Boo has a dream to compete at a higher level and in 2021 was classified as an official Para Rider at Grade 2 - she would also love to compete at the Paralympics one day.

Chloe Grant

Chloe began racing because her older sister Lucy had started kart racing a few years earlier. Chloe tells us, “Since I was such a young age and around motorsport all the time, when I was finally old enough I followed in her footsteps”.

Chloe's her biggest inspiration is Ayrton Senna, a Brazilian racing driver who won the Formula One World Drivers' Championship in 1988, 1990, and 1991 - “he is the reason that me and my older sister got into motorsport in the first place”. A more recent inspiration of Chloe’s is her coach, Gordie Mutch:

“Watching him progress high in the sport and the way he helps me and pushes me to be quicker and better is so inspiring”.

Chloe tells us her biggest achievement so far is winning the JSCC scholarship because it changed her life so much and ended up opening new opportunities that she never thought would be possible. A personal standout moment for Chloe was the feeling of winning the Championships in karting, she says, “it is a feeling like no other knowing you have driven your best and succeeded”.

We’d like to say a huge congratulations to Hailey Duff, Neil & Andrew Simpson, Millie Boo Smith and Chloe Grant for being shortlisted. We wish all the nominees the best of luck on the night, and we hope you enjoy your special evening.

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