SCOTTISH athletes’ record-breaking Rio success can help create a golden generation of future medal winners, according to sport bosses.
Golden greats like tennis ace Andy Murray, cyclists Callum Skinner and Katie Archibald and rower Heather Stanning led the way as Scotland enjoyed its most successful overseas Olympic Games.
It’s hoped Team GB’s stunning medal haul will now spur young Scots athletes on to become the best in the world – and potential future stars are already flocking to clubs around the country to try out sports they’ve enjoyed watching at the games.
One of them, Fraser Anderson, eight, from Clarkston, near Glasgow, went along to the city’s Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome yesterday to try out the track.
The keen cyclist couldn’t wait to get involved after watching his heroes Jason Kenny and Laura Trott, cycling’s golden couple, pick up multiple victories in Brazil.
He said: “I’ve really enjoyed watching the team sprint and team pursuit at the games.
“It was great seeing Jason and Laura win. I’d like to do what they’ve done one day.”
Mum Gillian said Fraser had been glued to the TV during the Games – which meant staying up past his normal bedtime to follow the gripping action unfold at the Olympic Velodrome.
She said: “He’s loved watching the track cycling in Rio.
“Thank goodness the schools weren’t back so he could stay up later to watch the events.”
Sport Scotland spokesman Will McLeish said 150 community sports hubs, set up after the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, would now play a major role in helping enthused youngsters to take up the right sport.
He said: “We are delighted with the success in Rio.
“Sporting role models really do have an impact and encourage younger people to get involved in sport.”
Paul Elliott, spokesman for Scottish Hockey, said Team GB women’s gold medal, secured in a dramatic penalty shootout following a dramatic final, had already sparked a huge leap in interest in the sport.
He said: “There’s been a real social media buzz from Team GB’s success and we expect to see youngsters coming along to try out the sport as a result.”
It isn’t just youngsters who have been captivated by Team GB’s performances.
Last week, Scotland manager Gordon Strachan said the achievements of Scottish athletes in Brazil illustrated just how poor Scottish football was in comparison.
The 59-year-old heaped praise on the country’s swimmers and cyclists but, on a negative note, argued that Scottish footballers no longer had the
in-built character to push themselves to the max.
He said: “As a national side we struggle because we’re not athletic enough, we don’t push ourselves enough as a team sport.
“The cyclists have got it, I’ve watched them training, so do the swimmers – we don’t have it in team sport.”
But while football lags behind, other sports are capitalising on unprecedented popularity.
Peter Jardine, spokesman for Scottish Athletics, said national events had already benefited from higher levels of interest following London 2012 and Glasgow 2014, and further growth was now expected.
He said: “With 15 track and field athletes in Brazil, there was the biggest Scottish representation in Team GB and NI at an Olympics for more than a century. People like Eilidh Doyle, Laura Muir, Lynsey Sharp, Andrew Butchart and Eilish McColgan are huge role models and watching them compete in finals at the Olympics is definitely an inspiration for the next generation.”
Kirstin Phillips, spokeswoman for Scottish Swimming, said local clubs were hoping to see a huge surge in interest when they start back next week.
She said: “We hope that seeing Hannah Miley and Duncan Scott in Rio will inspire the next generation of swimmers.”
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Tennis Scotland said former US Open champion Murray’s victory in Rio would build on the excitement created by the success he and wheelchair tennis star Gordon Reid enjoyed at this year’s Wimbledon.
She said: “Andy Murray’s gold medal win at Rio will definitely add to the cumulative effect his success is having on tennis in Scotland.”