Scotland is a unique case when it comes to the National Championships, with just one college providing athletes to represent the region.
While this makes life tough when it comes to climbing the medal table, their team spirit will be difficult to top and with this year’s Championships taking place effectively next door in Tyne and Wear, Scotland will be hoping this is the perfect opportunity to improve on last year’s finish.
Last year’s result: 11th place
Colleges representing the region in 2016: Ayrshire College will be Scotland’s sole representatives, taking athletes to compete in men’s football, men’s volleyball, women’s volleyball and women’s badminton.
While this puts Scotland in a unique positon, Sport and Fitness Curriculum Manger at the college, John McTaggart, believes it will play into their hands: “This ultimately plays a significant role in the team spirit that we have throughout the Championships.
“On the day of the opening ceremony, and over the course of the weekend you will see the close bond of our athletes and the desire that they have to see each other succeed.”
Star athletes: Scotland has a proud record within the badminton at previous Championships and will be looking to continue their success on the court this year. The pairing in the female doubles, Beatrice Gabell and Emma Cook, won gold in the female doubles last year in Bath and are excited about the chance to defend their title in Tyne and Wear.
One to watch: This year also represents the strongest men’s football squad Scotland has had since they made history by winning the first ever Scottish gold medal in Bath in 2012. They have been playing as an 11-a-side team in the BUCS league and the team cohesion developed there will put them in a good position for the tough competition ahead.
National Championships veterans: This will be the third year in a row that Ayrshire College’s male and female volleyball teams will be representing Scotland. Each year they have seen an improvement in both their performances and overall position in the tournament.
What they say: “The experience of representing Scotland is a great honour that is bestowed on our students and one that stays with them for years to come.
“Of course we would like to see our students win every event but this experience in the long run is about more than that. It makes our learners more aspirational and opens up their eyes up to what opportunities there are beyond Ayrshire.
“Finally, on return to college it provides the department with a buzz about the team’s experiences and it starts the cycle all over again with our new and continuing learners wanting to be part of this unique opportunity the following year.”
(Alan Johnston, Ayrshire College lecturer)