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A stroke of inspiration: Young swimmer hailed at as ceremony salutes the stars of women’s sport

Cerys in the pool
Cerys in the pool

She only swam her first competitive lengths six years ago but Cerys McCrindle has just been hailed an inspiration at a prestigious awards ceremony.

Cerys has been part of the GB Down Syndrome Swimming team since 2017, competing at national and international levels, bringing home medals galore.

This year, the 17-year-old picked up individual bronze medals in the 50m, 200m and 400m freestyle events at the fifth annual European Down Syndrome Championships, as well as gold and bronze in the women’s 4 x 50m Freestyle and Mixed 4 x 100m Freestyle relay.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, the youngster also volunteers her time to help coach people with additional supported needs as part of the Learn to Swim Programme.

Cerys McCrindle

On Friday, Cerys’ amazing achievements were recognised at the Scottish Women in Sport Awards, where she picked up the gong for Inspiration in Sport.

Overwhelmed to even have been nominated, Cerys says she hopes to emulate the success of other leading sportswomen around the country, who are putting their sports on the map.

“It meant the world to me to be recognised at the awards, and I feel very grateful,” said Cerys, who lives in Ayr and is currently finishing her final year of high school.

“After school I want to keep going with swimming and do more competitions. I love coaching and I want to keep doing that, too.”

Cerys was nominated alongside professional golfer Heather MacRae, who continued to train, compete and win events while battling cervical cancer, and school teacher Gillian Duffy, who was hailed for her dedication to helping young women in football throughout her own personal health scares.

Joining her at the glittering award ceremony, Cerys’ mum Karen admits swimming started out as a hobby and she’s amazed how far her daughter has come.She said: “I’m so proud of Cerys. Her achievements just go to show that, regardless of whether you have a disability or not, you can still achieve if you are willing to work hard.

“Swimming just started as something that she enjoyed doing. When we went along to her first competition in Southampton, she was disqualified for being too fast, so that did give us an idea that she was doing well and had a talent.”

Although great strides have been made to make women’s sport come to the forefront, Maureen McGonigle, chief executive of Scottish Women in Sport, says more still needs to be done to capitalise on recent successes, such as this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, which was watched by more than a billion people, to encourage further change.

She said: “Some things I thought would never happen are actually happening. It’s amazing. Women are finding their voices and standing up.

“It’s an evolutionary process – and long may it continue.”

History-making boxer Hannah Rankin has another title under her belt after she was crowned Sportswoman of the Year at the Scottish Women in Sport Awards.

The 29-year-old became the first Scottish woman to win a world title, the IBO super-welterweight crown, in June this year – just two years after her professional debut. And the latest award is another thrilling victory for the fighter, who grew up on her family farm in Luss, Argyll & Bute.

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Hannah Rankin celebrates her points win over Sarah Currin earlier this year

Before boxing took off, Rankin attended the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Royal Academy of Music in London. Between fights, she still plays the bassoon with orchestras around the world. Her next fight – for the WBC Junior Middleweight Championship against Swede Patricia Berghult – takes place later this month in Malta.