Travel award scheme is super-beneficial, says Caithness surf champion Craig
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Have a look at our digital subscription packages!
Teenage surfing champion Craig McLachlan has highlighted the benefits of a scheme that allows young athletes to travel out of the Highlands to access training facilities and take part in competitions.
The Highland Athlete Travel Award Scheme (ATAS) opens for new applications from Friday, January 14. It is administered by High Life Highland (HLH) on behalf of SportScotland.
One of those to have been supported by the scheme is Thurso High School pupil Craig McLachlan.
The 16-year-old won the open title at the Scottish National Surfing Championships held at Thurso East in November, becoming the youngest surfer to take the top award.
Craig, who has been surfing since the age of 10, said: “My older sister started surfing and I tried it and enjoyed it quite a lot.
“I’m dedicated to the sport and take as many opportunities as possible for training and so with the ATAS money I went to the Isle of Lewis with my coach and we managed to stay out there for two weeks' training.
“The money has helped pay for the travel and accommodation and it’s super-beneficial – I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go away and get training like that without it."
HLH head of sports development Mags Duncan said: “Following the launch last year we had 14 athletes secure funding, representing sports including athletics, golf, badminton, rugby, orienteering, surfing and downhill mountain biking.
“The scheme allows athletes to access training facilities outwith Highland that give our athletes the same opportunities as others across Scotland.
“We are delighted to work in partnership with SportScotland to bring this additional funding to support talented athletes across Highland.
“It’s our hope that it will make a real difference to the quality of sports performance and support them to access specialist training and competitions which will benefit their development.”
Athletes can apply for up to £1500 through the application process.
HLH also gives athletes supported by the scheme free access to all its facilities across the region.
Another athlete who received funding was Stephen Mackay, who has represented Scotland at 3000m and is the Inverness Harriers' 1500m record holder.
He said: “I use the track but also the new gym facility in Inverness. They’ve got a strength and conditioning suite which is really good – it’s one of the best I’ve ever used.
“That’s where I train normally, but with High Life Highland you can now train anywhere in the Highlands for free, so if you’re away for the weekend I can also nip in to any of the centres covered by the Leisure Link scheme in other areas of Scotland."
Highland athletes can apply for this year’s ATAS funding until February 14.
More information can be found at www.highlifehighland.com/sport/hatas