Helping them be the best they can be

THE Borders Athlete Support Programme (ASP) is approaching its fourth birthday and to help in the celebrations, The Southern Reporter is running a weekly profile of Borders athletes who are on the programme.

Headed up by Gregor Nicholson (Borders manager) the ASP is funded principally by Scottish Borders Council. Its main aim is to help developing Borders athletes fulfil their potential with a view to their possible selection for the Commonwealth, Olympic or Paralympic Games, or for non-Games sports, international representation at senior level.

The athletes do not receive direct financial support; rather the ASP arranges and pays for individualised support services such as strength and conditioning, specialist coaching, physiotherapy, sport psychology, nutrition consultations and the like.

To be accepted on the programme, the athletes require to demonstrate that they are “performance-level” athletes with the potential to progress to senior elite level. Most will be one level away from qualifying for support from the sportscotland Institute of Sport and for the majority of athletes on the programme the aim is to graduate from the ASP to the institute. ASP entry standards have been agreed with the governing bodies of the nine Borders target sports (athletics, badminton, cricket, cycling, football, hockey, rugby, swimming and tennis), but applications from non-target sport athletes of a suitable standard can also be considered.

Since its inception in October 2007, 63 athletes from 17 different sports have been on the programme and 11 have graduated to the Institute of Sport or to a professional club.

Further information on the ASP is available at www.sportborders.org.uk/asp where you can also now catch up on all the latest ASP news tweets about the athletes.

Our opening profile is of swimmer Lucy Hope from Crailing. Lucy is about to become the 12th ASP graduate as preparations are already under way for her induction to the Institute of Sport.