We are delighted to offer the expertise of these elite and inspirational Athlete Mentors who each bring years of experience that will benefit your pupils.
Aileen first tried curling when she was 15-years-old but due to surgery and radiotherapy on a tumour on her spinal cord when she was just two-and-a-half years of age, she was unable to continue playing.
She went on to train as a primary school teacher but during this time her legs continued to deteriorate and she struggled on elbow crutches for many years. However a turning point came when she took her class along to her local ice rink on a school trip and the coach encouraged her to try wheelchair curling. Aileen was delighted to be back on the ice and she went on to join her local wheelchair curling club, Braehead as a result. Soon after, Team Scotland won gold at the World Championships in 2005 which further inspired Aileen. After countless hours of hard work and determination, she was selected to play for Scotland in 2007 and has been a member of the Scotland and GB squads ever since. Aileen was the first female skip at a World Championships and the highlight of her career so far was skipping the GB team to a bronze medal at the Sochi Paralympic Games in 2014. Becoming a permanent wheelchair user has enhanced Aileen’s quality of life and given her numerous unexpected opportunities both in sport and lifestyle.
- Paralympic Bronze Medallist
- World Championships Silver & Bronze Medallist
Caitlin’s love of the water started when she was 3. By 11 she began training, enjoying the competitive as well as the social side. However over the next few years Caitlin found it difficult to balance her school work and training, and wasn’t sure if she could continue swimming. But thanks to the support of her friends and family – especially her dad, who took her to all her 5am swim sessions – she decided to stick with the sport. By 18 all the hard work paid-off when she qualified for the Athens Olympics in 2004, having never raced at an international meet before. Caitlin raced in the Olympic final of the 4 x 200m freestyle relay, and it was this experience which provided her with even more desire to become one of the best swimmers in the world. After moving to Loughborough University to train and study a degree in Politics, Caitlin won a bronze medal at the 2005 World Championships.
The following year she became Scotland’s first gold medalist at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, winning the 200m freestyle in a games-record time, before collecting a second gold medal in the 400m freestyle. Becoming a double Commonwealth champion was undoubtedly the proudest moment in her sporting career.In total Caitlin has competed at 3 Olympics and raced in 6 Olympic finals, with the 2012 London Olympics ranking as her favourite experience. Caitlin recently announced her retirement and graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a Masters in Performance Psychology. She hopes to use her experience to inspire the next generation of athletes and support young people in their development in sport and at school.
- Double Commonwealth Games Champion
- World Championships Medallist
Gemma is a goalkeeper for Scotland and the most capped international footballer of all time in the UK. She started kicking a ball about with her brothers as soon as she could walk and has never looked back. Gemma was involved with was her primary school side and went on to join her first girls’ team at the age of 12. She made incredible progress from this point and by 15, had already represented Scotland at U16, U18 and U20 level, as well as earning her first call-up to the senior squad.
In 1998 at 16, she made her full debut for her country and became Scotland’s captain in 2009. She is the most capped Home Nations player of all time. After winning all domestic honours in Scotland with Aberdeen and Ayr United, Gemma moved to England where she had successful spells with Premier League sides Brighton & Hove Albion and Leeds United. Gemma returned north of the border to play for Hibernian in 2007 before moving to Celtic 2 years later. She has recently signed for the nine-time Scottish Women’s Premier League champions Glasgow City FC and continues to captain Scotland.
- Scotland International & Captain
- UK's Most Capped Footballer Ever
Keith has enjoyed a highly decorated career in fencing, including 6 Commonwealth medals, a European team bronze medal and a British Championship. He continues to represent Great Britain at international level, winning more than 100 caps, and remains the youngest fencer to be selected for the Scottish Senior Team at the age of 15. However Keith’s journey to the top was not an easy one. Coming from a difficult home life and growing up in a disadvantaged area, he had to work hard to achieve his goals – overcoming many adversities, including coping with dyslexia. Keith’s first experience of fencing came at 11, and he quickly went on to compete for Great Britain at cadet and junior level.
As a senior, he joined the World Class programme in 2006, training on a full-time basis with his British teammates in London. Since leaving in 2010, he has put his experience and energy into coaching from grassroots to performance level. As well as his numerous coaching and Athlete Mentor roles, Keith is an ambassador for Dyslexia Scotland. In 2015 he won the Young Person’s Coach of the Year at the Edinburgh Sports Awards for the third year running.
- British Fencing Champion
- Commonwealth Games Medallist
- European Championships Team Bronze Medallist
Rhona began a successful show jumping career aged 10, then at secondary school she discovered a new sport - hockey. By14, she was invited to debut for her country. Although Rhona managed to compete in both sports at international level for several years she ultimately had to decide between horses and hockey. Aged 20, a lifetime ambition to compete in an Olympic Games helped Rhona decide that her future lay with hockey.
In 1999, Rhona’s career encountered a major setback when she suffered a torn cruciate ligament in her knee. Exactly a year later, she suffered another severe injury; her forearm was struck by a hockey ball and smashed in 6 places. After 8 weeks, her arm wasn't healing properly, and she had to endure a painful bone graft from her hip to repair the injury. Undeterred, Rhona focussed on the Sydney Olympics during her recovery. Her dedication paid off and she was chosen to represent Great Britain for a second time. Rhona continued to build a successful hockey career, representing Scotland in over 200 matches. To this day she still holds the record for the most goals scored for her country. Since retiring in 2007, Rhona has been involved in youth coaching, guiding the 2009 GB Youth Olympic squad to gold.
- Commonwealth Games Competitor
- Scotland's Top Goal Scorer
Samantha began wheelchair athletics when she was 16, following a farm accident which left her paralysed from the waist down. She had first seen wheelchair racing during a trip she had whilst she was still in hospital in 2011 and fell in love with the sport immediately after trying it for the first time shortly after. Her career started to progress when she joined the Red Star Athletics Club and it wasn't long before she was classified, meaning she could start competing at a higher level in 2013.
Her greatest achievement so far is a bronze medal in the 2015 World Championships in Doha, but she hopes to achieve further success and medals in the coming years. Her hard work - which includes training twice a day, 6 days a week - was rewarded in 2016 when she qualified for the Paralympics in Rio. Samantha reached the final in 3 separate races and narrowly missing out on a podium finish. Sport has helped Samantha with her confidence since her accident, as well as benefitting her physically, making it far easier for her to transfer out of her day chair.
- World Championships Bronze Medallist
- European Championships Triple Gold Medallist
Sarah has been involved in judo since she was 9 when she went to her first session with some of the boys in her class. As a child, she played a range of sports – from skateboarding and running to swimming and football – but judo was her passion from a young age and she was instantly hooked from the moment she tried it. At 15, Sarah became junior British Champion, and was selected for Team GB to compete at the junior World and European Championships 3 years later.
Her career progression slowed down at this point which led to some challenging times, but her hard work and good attitude paid off in 2004 when she started to win international medals and qualified for the Olympics in Athens. Until proving herself on this stage, Sarah had been written off. She wasn’t funded, meaning she had to work alongside her intensive training and travel schedule. Her greatest achievements were becoming European Champion in 2006 and, eight years later, winning gold in front of a home crowd at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, which would also prove to be her last international competition. She is now an Athlete Mentor and does a lot of public speaking, where she stresses the importance of commitment, perseverance and determination when striving to be the best you can be.
- Triple Olympian
- Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist
- European Champion
Competing in his fourth Commonwealth Games in Manchester in July 2002, Steve Frew made history for Scotland when he won the men’s rings event. Steve was Scotland’s first-ever gymnastics Commonwealth Games gold medallist. This was the highlight of an international career which has spanned 23 years and has seen Steve represent Great Britain at two World Championships and compete for Scotland at five Commonwealth Games. Steve’s journey to Commonwealth gold met with many obstacles along the way. Fitting in at school was not always easy for him as someone who was small for his age. However, thanks to his strength and determination, Steve came to be counted as the only Scottish gymnast on the Great Britain team by the time he turned 14. His progression through the ranks was challenging; it took Steve 23 years to finally fulfil his childhood dream of taking home a Commonwealth gold medal.
- Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist