SHORT SKILLS GO A LONG WAY

The 2017 ClubSport Peeblesshire winners (picture by Alwyn Johnston)
The 2017 ClubSport Peeblesshire winners (picture by Alwyn Johnston)

Sporting talent from all corners of Tweeddale turned out in force on Friday at the annual regional ClubSport Awards, held at Peebles Golf Club.

Hosted by ClubSport Tweeddale chairman Aidrian Lucas, who also holds the post of Deputy Lieutenant of Tweeddale, the evening was a true celebration of success for sportsmen and women of all ages and abilities in the region.

Peebles mountain biker Isla Short rode off with the 2017 Sports Personality of the Year following a season which saw her reach the qualifying standard for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Known as the ‘Firegirl’ on the MTB circuit, because of her long red hair, the 21-year- old Peebles Cycling Club member achieved three top 10 places during the 2017 World Cup U23 Series with a career best fourth place at the Val Di Sole event in Italy.

Isla’s international year ended on a high in September with her first C1 win coming at the BeNeLux Cup Sittard in the Netherlands.

Back at home, in Glentress, Isla retained her Scottish Cross Country Championship and is also the current Scottish Cyclocross champion.

“The support I have had in the Borders has been invaluable,” she said. “Both ClubSport Tweeddale, along with the Borders Athlete Support Programme, gave me my first experience of receiving funding and help from the area I lived in and it has really helped me progress within my sport.

“Being part of Peebles Cycling Club and Glentress and Innerleithen Mountain Bike clubs has also played a huge part and I feel so lucky to have all this on my doorstep.”

Looking ahead to her trip to the Gold Coast in April, Isla said: “I have my goals but it’s my first major Games, so I am really trying to treat it as an experience rather than aiming for a result. It’s hard to do that when you always want to be the best you can be, though, and I’m really excited about it.”

Having some of the best facilities for the sport in the country in Tweeddale, it was no surprise when another young mountain biker, Anna McGorum, collected the Junior Sports Personality of the Year trophy.

Among her achievements this year, Anna (16) can boast finishing third in the British Cross Country Series; fourth in the British Championship; representing Scotland at the Youth European MTB Championships; selection for the GB MTB Junior Development Squad and winning the 2017 Youth XC Scottish Championship.

Swimming sensation Tony Prior, one of four swimmers to help establish a development tier in the Borders Barracudas Squad, was named Disability Sports Personality of the Year.

Experiencing his first competitive meet at the Lothian Autumn Gala in Prestonpans, Tony achieved several podium finishes and personal best times.

The sport of Boccia is proving ever-popular in the Borders and beyond, and assisting this phenomenon was Peebles Sessions coach Callum MacDonald, who was duly named as Coach of the Year.

Callum’s caring nature means he is willing to do anything for his team mates and for the overall success of the Borders Boccia Club. His commitment has proven just this and the team adore him.

Willem La Grange was named Junior Coach of the Year. Having gained his level one UKCC coaching qualification earlier this year, he coaches the P1-P3 judo class at Peebles Judo Club and often makes sure the club’s adult members do not miss out on their fitness training either, with his exuberant warm-up sessions.

For the second week on the bounce, a primary school outfit ran out with the Team of the Year title at the regional awards. Priorsford PS Girls Athletics Team were this week’s young recipients, following a most successful season.

Coached by Richard (Mr) Edge, Team A were crowned Scottish at the Scottish Schools Road Relay in Grangemouth with Team B in second, a first for any school in Scotland. Part of that team took part in the Sportshall Athletics, who won the Peeblesshire competition, and later took the Borders title in Galashiels.

At the Borders Schools Cross Country Championships, the Priorsford team repeated its winning feat of the previous year before becoming the Scottish Schools Cross Country Champions.

Part of the team were crowned East of Scotland Sportshall Athletics Champions, still the only school from the Borders to win this event, while at the 3 Bridges Race, Team A finished the gruelling 2.5km race in first to fourth place inclusive, to be named champions.

Having raised over £12,500 in the last 10 months, Innerleithen Tennis Club’s dedication to providing tennis opportunities to everyone in the community, as well as showing commitment to grow and develop local coaches, earned it the Club of the Year title.

The Scottish Association of Local Sports Councils Award for Service to Local Sport went to Peebles Swimming Club stalwarts Ann Duncan and Val Shaw.

Both ladies have provided the club committee with stability for over three decades and their breadth of knowledge has helped to maintain the sustainability of the club for its younger members.