IT is just five days until the Nordoff-Robbins Scottish Sporting Awards.
Over the last six weeks, we have brought you nominations from categories including Team of the Year, Parasport Personality of the Year and Coach of the Year.
This week, we’re announcing the winners of two of the ceremony’s most special awards.
Both are legends of Scottish sport, whose exploits exemplify the commitment, passion and determination we prize.
Our Sporting Ambassador Award and Outstanding Achievement in Sport Award winners will be at Prestonfield House Hotel in Edinburgh on Friday night.
And, of course, next Sunday we will have full details of every winner at one of Scottish sport’s most spectacular events.
Sporting Ambassador Award
Sponsor: Ennova Law
He has scaled his personal “Everest” as an athlete.
But Mark Beaumont experiences his biggest highs when he gets off his bike.
The Scots cyclist made global headlines last year after cycling around the world in an incredible 79 days – beating his own punishing 80-day schedule by 24 hours.
His record-breaking exploits drew attention and plaudits in equal measure.
But for Beaumont, attracting the world’s gaze is merely a means to an end.
“I guess going around the world in 80 days was my Everest,” he said.
“It doesn’t get much bigger in my world. It was as big as I can dream.
“But I very much think about what I do as an athlete in terms of wider impact.”
Beaumont teams up his feats of athletic endurance with a tireless commitment to charity and educational work.
His profile enables him to shine a light on both Scottish and global causes.
That is why the Glasgow University graduate is the standout choice for this year’s Nordoff-Robbins Sporting Ambassador Award.
“If I’m clever about what I do – and I have a team that works very, very hard – I can leverage my time to work every month for the pro-bono causes that I’m passionate about,” he said.
“Whether it’s as rector at the University of Dundee, patron of the Saltire Foundation, chairing Orkidstudio, or the other charity involvement that I have, that’s absolutely at the heart of what I do and what my team does.
“If I don’t succeed as an athlete and have the profile to then be creative with my time and resources, I can’t do all that.
“Hopefully at the heart of smashing records, people do take confidence and inspiration from that, but for me that’s not enough, it has to be a bit more direct.”
Outstanding Achievement in Sport Award
Sponsor: Ennova Law
Rugby has always prized self-sacrifice over individual glory.
For more than a decade at the top of the Scottish game, Alastair Kellock epitomised that spirit.
The towering lock was a key figure for Scotland and Glasgow Warriors during a storied career, serving as the inspirational captain of both.
He picked up 56 caps for the national team, leading them in the Six Nations and in the Rugby World Cup, before, in his retirement season, skippering the Warriors to the Pro12 title.
Kellock is a legend of Scottish rugby.
But fittingly for a man who gave everything on the field with no expectation of being honoured beyond the dressing room, being hailed as such sits awkwardly.
“I never did anything as an individual, it was always as part of a team,” said the modest star.
“I think it must be a strange feeling for anyone who has played in a team environment to get individual recognition.
“But it’s very nice to be recognised by Nordoff-Robbins and the Sunday Post, because you don’t take part in the game specifically for the recognition.
“I’ve been out of the playing side for almost three years now, so something like this is unexpected, but it’s lovely too.”
Since hanging up his boots in 2015, Kellock has set about matching his on-field contribution on the corporate side of Scottish rugby.
Currently the Scottish Rugby Union’s business development manager, the 36-year-old is still doing his best for the game he loves.
But he admits he enjoys the rough-and-tumble of match days at Murrayfield a little less as a fan than he did as a player.
“I’m a dreadful spectator,” he said.
“I’d actually rather watch a game by myself! But I’m getting better.
“During the build-up I wish I was still out there, but then the whistle goes and the first hit goes in and you think: ‘No, I’m fine where I am!’”
After putting the shift in that he did, no Scottish rugby fan would dare grudge Al that!