The start line

Where will you begin your sporting journey?

All athletes have to start somewhere, including the Team Scotland stars you have watched in action at the Commonwealth Games over the past 10 days.

As part of our #AskAnAthlete series, we asked a number of athletes about their early experiences of the sport in which they now compete on the world stage.

There are many different pathways into performance sport - some athletes got into their sport through their school, a local club or facility, or were encouraged by a relative, while others transitioned from competing in a different sport.

While some showed natural talent from the start, others took a while to find their feet – either way, they have all worked hard over the years to get to where they are today.


Grace Reid, diving

“I must have been about five years old, at Wester Hailes in Edinburgh - it’s a tiny little local pool. I just got on a board and saw someone diving and thought ‘that looks really fun’.

"I tried it and never looked back. That was it, I was hooked.”  


Vicky Glover, boxing

“I was 10 or 11 years old and my dad took me down [to the gym] because he thought it would be a good idea, that it would keep me out of trouble outside and in school.

“The coach said ‘I think you have a natural talent, you need to come back’. So I loved it straight away and I took to it from then.”


James Heatly, diving

“We used to live in America when I was younger, and we had a pool in my garden. My grandpa came over to visit us - he was a three-time Commonwealth champion at diving.

"I used to put the trampoline on the side of the pool and just chuck myself in."

“I wasn’t very good, but my grandpa started coaching me and by that point, we knew we were coming home. He was one of the founders of Edinburgh Diving Club so he was the one who encouraged me to go try it. It took a while to get the hang of it, but since then I’ve never looked back.”


Alison Howie, hockey

 “I started in primary school, just as part of PE. I was pretty bad when I first started  - I just used to run, as I couldn’t really do anything else.”


Alex Marshall, lawn bowls

“I was quite fortunate that the bowling club was across from my school. It was my dad and my grandfather that got me started when I was eight years old.

“Instead of playing football or tig or any other school games, I used to go across to the bowling club at lunchtime, and go back to the bowling club after I finished school"

“By the time I was 10 years old, I was winning under-16s competitions and I knew then that there was an opportunity to go further in the sport.”


Ella Gibbons, netball

“I first started playing netball at school, but then I took a four-year gap, focused on athletics and then came back to netball two years ago.

“So I have come back into it a bit more recently, later than a lot of people, but have been selected for the Commonwealth Games!”


Zoey Clark, athletics

“I started when I was 15 – I’d been meaning to try it for ages, but I just never got round to it.

"One of my teachers at school made me try it out because I was running in rugby and outsprinted everyone."

“Something definitely clicked - I always enjoyed my other sports, but something in athletics made me think ‘I’ve found my sport now, and this is what I want to do’. I was okay on a local level to start with, but I wasn’t anything amazing - I wasn’t national level at that point.”


Lynne Beattie, beach volleyball

“I was hopeless to start with. I said that I would never play the sport again after the first time. But a few years later I came back and gave it another go, I’ve improved and I’m still playing - I don’t live to regret it.”


Amy Brodie, hockey

“I was maybe 12 when I started hockey, and I trained with boys when I was little. I would say I was actually quite good - better than the boys!”


Kirsty Gilmour, badminton

“I probably wasn’t very good when I was younger - I remember getting very frustrated, and I might have broken my first racquet. But I was quite coordinated and quite athletic, so I managed to marry the two together.

"Then badminton was just the one that stuck out of all the sports I ever tried.”


Cara Kennedy, gymnastics

“I started when I was six, just at a recreational class but then they asked me to go along to the club, so that’s how I got started. I’m still at that same club now.”


Lucas Thomson, diving

“I used to be a gymnast, and then I just went to the Commonwealth pool [in Edinburgh] one day. I gave it a go, just messing about trying the tricks and thought, actually what if I seriously give this a go? This could be good fun.

“So I went to a taster session, absolutely loved it and decided to switch over."

"Of course, I had an advantage - being a gymnast already, I had the strength and spatial awareness.

“Looking back at my videos from when I first started, I think I was rubbish back then. But it just goes to show: all the hard work that goes in over the years, and focusing on the details, helps to bring you up to a high standard.”


Start your sporting journey

Where could sport take you? There are many different ways to get involved in something new, whether recreationally or competitively.

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