Kenny More of the sportscotland institute of sport with wheelchair curling head coach Sheila Swan

The final countdown

With three Games on the horizon it’s almost time to deliver

Planning for any major Games is a major effort. In 2018, three Games will follow one another in the space of three months.

Thankfully Scotland’s world class sporting system is equipped to meet this three-pronged challenge and the experts at the sportscotland institute of sport are leaving no stone unturned in helping Scotland’s athletes to perform on the world stage.

With 100 days to go until the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, sportscotland has published its first in a series of #AskAnAthlete films (see above).

Sport First has also spoken to two of the key people charged with making sure the Scots who are selected for the Olympics, Paralympics and Commonwealth Games in 2018 do themselves and the country proud.

Support and expertise

Mike Whittingham, sportscotland director of high performance, said: “We have a proud record in Scotland in delivering great results internationally over the past eight-year cycle but we know that at each Winter and Summer Olympics & Paralympics the competition on the world stage is becoming increasingly more competitive. 

“Here in Scotland with 100 days to go until the start of the Winter Olympics, we are once again aspiring to achieve great things on the world stage.

Ross Murdoch sportscotland institute of sport“We believe the world class high-performance system we are driving forward in Scotland and the UK is providing the support and expertise that will make a difference to our athletes.

“Our headline goals in 2018 are very challenging for both the Winter Olympics and Paralympic and indeed the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

“As we approach 2018 and 100 days to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, 125 days until the Winter Paralympics and 150 days until Gold Coast we believe we are still on track for a series of best-ever performances both in terms of Scots on teams and our medal contribution to Team GB/ ParalympicsGB.

“Our investment in winter sport programmes and our daily support around targeted athletes in curling, Nordic skiing, ski & snowboarding remains fully focused as we enter a significant countdown to the Games.

“Final selection, health and welfare, optimum performance and technical interventions are all major features of our Project PyeongChang and Project Gold Coast approach. So our message is clear – we all need to use the next few months wisely because there is still time to make a difference.”

Peak practice

Ten Scottish athletes have already been selected for Team GB in curling. Team Muirhead are poised to compete in their third Olympics while Team Smith will join them at their first Games, with a line-up featuring two brothers of women's skip Eve Muirhead, Thomas and Glen.

The Scots on Team GB and ParalympicsGB won three medals at the last Winter Games in Sochi in 2014 with silver in men’s curling and bronze in both the women’s curling and wheelchair curling.

Selections for the other sports are still to be made but expectations are high for adding more Scots to Team GB and ParalympicsGB for PyeongChang.

Kevin McHugh, high-performance manager for snowsports, said: “Looking back over the last three Winter Olympic cycles I now see us being in the best place yet to deliver in terms of performances at the Games and building a sustainable winter sports system.

Millie Knight“We have achieved consistent medal-winning performances over this cycle in curling and short track speed skating.

“We have an upwards trajectory that is consistently in the top 10 and getting close to the medal zone in cross-country skiing.

“We also have a group of emerging athletes with an improving performance profile and the potential to participate in multiple Games in park & pipe and Alpine.

“Finally it’s important to highlight the new disciplines, partnerships and opportunities that have been developed in this cycle with multi-Games potential.

“Now, as 2018 nears, it’s great to see that many governing bodies both at Scottish and UK level have plans in place and are ready to capitalise on the increased profile that a major Games offers.”

Find out more

Follow #ScotsOnTeamGB, #ScotsOnParaGB and #TeamScot2018 on Twitter.

Read more from the sportscotland institute of sport experts at Cutting Edge and check out our Performance LIVE series.

Did you know there is now a National Curling Academy in Stirling, for both high-performance curlers and community groups?

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