Kinghorn claims top prize at Scottish Women in Sport Awards

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by Craig Wright, Shannon Scovel and Jessie Hosking

Double world champion Sammi Kinghorn was the big winner at the 2017 Scottish Women in Sport Awards, as the para-athletics star was crowned QTS Scottish Sportswoman of the Year at a star-studded event in Glasgow on Friday night.

The 21-year-old, who claimed a brace of gold medals at the World Para-Athletics Championships in London this summer, edged out cyclist Katie Archibald and Stirling alumna Catriona Matthew to take home the main prize of the evening, on a night where the great and good of Scottish sport turned out to celebrate the achievements of the last twelve months.

Speaking to Brig, Kinghorn admitted the scale of her successes in 2017 is still to fully sink in.

“When someone mentions ‘you’re a double world champion’, I’m still like ‘who are you talking about?’” laughed Kinghorn.

“It’s been a dream come true for me, and one I definitely didn’t expect to come true quite so fast.”

Kinghorn receives her award on stage at the GoGlasgow Urban Hotel. Credit: Craig Wright

Maureen McGonigle, founder of Scottish Women in Sport, paid tribute to an historic year for female Scottish athletes, as well as thanking title sponsors QTS.

She said: “Our awards dinner offers us an opportunity to recognise our top female athletes as well highlighting some of the individuals working behind the scene, officiating, administrating and leading.  This year has been an amazing showcase of female talent in Scottish sport and our awards dinner will continue to shine the spotlight on them.

“It is wonderful to have support from QTS, who are one of Scotland’s top supporters of women in sport and engineering.  QTS understand the needs of athletes and have created an athlete development programme to support the development of struggling young athletes.  I look forward to furthering our strong partnership with them and creating a productive collaborative working relationship.”

Erin Wallace took home the sportscotland Young Sportswoman of the Year prize after her impressive performance at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas earlier this year, whilst there was double success for Netball Scotland; the Scotland under-21 team walked away with the Team Scotland Team of the Year prize, while the Sirens were rewarded for their Changing the Game campaign with the Brand Oath Campaign of the Year award.

Elsewhere, former high jumper Jayne Nisbet was awarded the Frame Role Model of the Year prize for her work on dealing with eating disorders in sport, Tina Gordon claimed the Scottish Sports Futures Coach of the Year award for her impact on the Scottish wheelchair basketball scene, Scottish hockey’s Barbara Morgan was awarded the title of GoGlasgow Urban Official of the Year, and Clare Bath was crowned SWiS Champion for 2017.

There was also an on-stage interview with Corinne Hutton, the first quadruple amputee to climb Everest, who received a rousing reception at the end of her speech.

Away from the awards, the night provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate what has, by all accounts, been a landmark year for women’s sport in Scotland. In an interview with both Brig and our colleagues from UWS, Aileen Campbell MSP, Minister for Public Health and Sport, said:

“It’s incredibly exciting to be here to celebrate the achievements of our 2017 Scottish Women in Sport. The fact that SWiS has managed to bring together so many high-performance athletes, women who are involved in sport at the highest level together, as well as the volunteers and grassroots stars in one evening just to celebrate the enormous achievements that women have made in sport this year is fantastic.”

That sentiment was one echoed by Scotland women’s football head coach Shelley Kerr, who praised the organisation of the awards.

“It’s amazing. I think that I’m right in saying it’s the tenth year of Scottish Women in Sports Awards and it’s great to celebrate all the good work that females, female athletes and female teams do on a regular basis” said Kerr.

The former Stirling University FC head coach took over the national side from Anna Signeul earlier this year, after the Swede had guided Scotland to their first-ever major championship finals at Euro 2017. Unbeaten in her tenure so far, Kerr is hopeful that her team can continue their good form from the past year as she sets her sights on the 2019 World Cup.

She said: “It has obviously been an incredible year. We didn’t start off the [Euro 2017] campaign very well but we ended really well and that’s a foundation to build on. It’s still early stages for women’s football and there’s still a lot of work to do but it’s going really well and we’re really pleased with the recent success.

“I have to say that the players have been magnificent and the support internally and externally for the women’s game in Scotland has been tremendous. We were really focused on trying to get six points over two games and again that’s a platform to build on. We know we’ve got a lot of work to do but what we’re trying to do is implement a new philosophy and a new style of play so we can attract and excite a nation.”

Meanwhile, Kinghorn praised the fact that the event brought together athletes from across the spectrum of Scottish sport.

“It’s incredible” she said.

“I think we, in Scotland, are one of the best countries for celebrating women in sport. It’s really cool – you get to see so many different people that you sometimes don’t get the chance to talk to.

“For example, I see the Netball Scotland girls in the gym quite a lot, so it’s great to be able to chat to the about how they’re doing in their sport, and it’s amazing to see so many young Scottish women doing so well in their sports.”

Next on the radar for a number of Scotland’s female athletes will be the 2018 Commonwealth Games, held on Australia’s Gold Coast this coming April. Jon Doig, CEO of Commonwealth Games Scotland, is looking forward to what is set to be another historic event.

“Female athletes and staff contribute so much to Team Scotland, particularly over the last couple of Commonwealth Games” said Doig.

“We’re really pleased that, going into Gold Coast 2018, we’ve got an equal number of medal events for men and for women. It’s a real landmark, and we’re sure that our female athletes will step up, just as they did four years ago.”

Kinghorn will once again be leading the Scottish charge on the track, with a gruelling winter of preparation lying in wait for her. The hours of training are unlikely to faze her, however.

“Winter training is quite tough, but I actually quite enjoy it” she admitted.

“Training doesn’t come with all the nerves – it’s just about you growing as an athlete.”

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