Three new rugby players have taken the total number of athletes accepted onto the Borders Athlete Support Programme, since its inception eight years ago, up to the 100 mark.
Thomas Brown from Melrose, Adam Hall from Lauder and Finlay Scott from Camptown, south of Jedburgh, all recommended by Scottish Rugby, are the latest recruits who, once inducted, will have access to individual medical and physio profiling and consultations with a sports nutritionist and sport psychologist on a required basis.
ASP Manager Gregor Nicholson explained: “Apart from the introductory medical and physio profiles, no service provision is obligatory for any ASP athlete.
“It is very much about providing what is right for each individual athlete at their particular stage of development and this is discussed and agreed with the athlete’s coach or performance manager.
“The rurality of the Scottish Borders is one of the challenges facing many athletes so we do what we can to counter this.”
When the ASP was established by Scottish Borders Council in October 2007, its stated aim was to help Borders athletes to maximise their potential and help them progress to the next level where the sportScotland Institute of Sport, their governing body or a professional club or team takes over. At that stage, the athlete effectively graduates from the ASP. For the three new rugby players the aim is to be accepted by Scottish Rugby as a Stage 2 Academy player, which is the stepping stone to a professional contract.
“The extent to which we contribute to athletes progressing to the next level varies from one athlete to the next and it’s not every athlete who manages to do so,” added Nicholson.
“We monitor each athlete’s progress and, as with any such performance programme, it is inevitable that some athletes plateau and don’t progress to the required level.
“But we try to give them every opportunity and we have now had 29 ASP athletes graduate giving us a very pleasing graduation rate of 29%.
“This is an all-time high which is reflective of the more detailed selection process we now have in conjunction with the sports’ governing body performance staff to help identify the athletes who have a real chance of progressing.”
Six athletes graduated from the ASP in the year 2015 to the end of September – Lauren Tait (netball), Isla Short (mountain biking), Abbi Blackie (judo), Gary Robertson and Fraser Renwick (rugby) and Toby Douglas (swimming). And it has just been confirmed that rower Maddie Arlett is also now being supported by the Institute.