by Craig Wright
Stirling University swimming coaches Ben Higson and Steven Tigg have been honoured with the Coach of the Year award at the 2016 Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards.
The pair, who have overseen a period of unprecedented success for Stirling’s elite swimming programme in recent years, were presented with their award at a ceremony in Edinburgh last night.
Victorious Davis Cup captain Leon Smith and Karen Ross, coach of para-tennis star Gordon Reid, were also on the shortlist.
Under the guidance of Higson and Tigg, four Stirling swimmers were selected for Rio 2016, going on to collect three silver medals between them to make Stirling the most successful Scottish university at this year’s Olympics.
Speaking at the ceremony, Higson said: “It’s a great honour to receive an award of this stature and it speaks volumes about the quality of the programme at the University of Stirling.
“There are so many people who work with the athletes and contribute to their success – this award is for everyone who has given their support.
“A lot of hard work and dedication goes into coaching a squad to perform consistently, but we have found that openness and honesty with our athletes helps them achieve the goals they want to.”
Tigg added: “It’s very humbling to be recognised amongst such esteemed company, across a wide spread of sports and high achievers. It is an award for our wider team, who work so hard behind the scenes ensuring we, as coaches, have as much information to go on as possible.
“A culmination of great talent, hard work, belief and enjoying every minute of what you do goes in to making the squad a success. Nothing would be possible without the resource we have from the wider community including University of Stirling, Scottish Swimming and the Scottish Institute of Sport – thank you to all of them.”
Cathy Gallagher, director of sport at the university, praised Higson and Tigg for their dedication, and effort in supporting aspiring young athletes achieve their potential.
She said: “World-class coaching, paired with academic flexibility and support, are key ingredients to help our sportspeople get the most of their time at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence. The role that mentors like Ben and Steven play in this success cannot be understated. Their recognition is richly deserved and we are immensely proud.”
One of Stirling’s Olympians Duncan Scott, was nominated for Scottish Male Athlete of the Year after a debut Olympics that saw him claim two silver medals in the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays.
However, he was beaten to the award by Wimbledon champion and Olympic gold medallist Andy Murray, with the Dunblane man also taking home the Scottish Sportsperson of the Year award.
There was further success for Stirling on the night, as former tennis scholar Gordon Reid – featured in the Freshers edition of Brig – took home the Para-Sport Athlete of the Year award, after a year which has seen him claim Paralympic gold, reach world number one in both singles and doubles and claim Grand Slam titles in Australia and at Wimbledon.
In addition, Stirling University Sports President Jess Morris was on hand to represent the “Stirling Uni Barmy Army”. who collected the Team of the Year award on behalf of the Great Britain Davis Cup team.
For a full list of the winners, click here. (courtesy of Team Scotland):