Giving a helping hand

NeilGourley_ATHLETICS

NeilGourley_ATHLETICS

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A PAIR of southside athletes are set to receive a cash boost to support them during their bid for glory.

Newton Mearns’ swimmer Andrew Mullen has been hand-picked as a future Paralympic games medal winner after being chosen to be part of the Bank of Scotland Local Heroes initiative.

AndrewMullen_SWIMMING

AndrewMullen_SWIMMING

The Mearns Castle high school pupil is joined on the scheme by 18-year-old middle-distance runner Neil Gourley, from Newlands.

Andrew (16), who is a member of Ren 96 swimming club and represented Britain at the London 2012 Paralympics, will receive the £1,000 fund.

At just 15, he finished fourth in both the 50m butterfly and 50m backstroke at London 2012 and he is now determined to medal at this summer’s world championships in Montreal.

Andrew told The Extra: “I am really pleased to be selected. It shows that my hard work is being recognised which is always nice and it just encourages me to keep working hard to improve.”

Mullen, who won 50m butterfly silver and 200m medley bronze at the European championships in 2011, continued: “I competed at London 2012, it really was amazing, the crowd were just incredible and I’m not sure if anything will be able to top it.

“I made the finals in the 50m fly and 50m back, getting British records in both, and that has set me up perfectly for the next Games. I was only 15 then and hope I can push on from there.

“By Rio I will have more experience, this year the World Championships are the big goal. I’ve got a European medal but I would love a world one to add to the collection, then I can go to Rio to complete the set.”

Meanwhile, Williamwood high school distance runner Gourley, a member of Giffnock North amateur athletics club, will also receive the cash boost.

The 17-year-old aims to earn selection for this summer’s European junior championships in Rieti.

He said: “When I was younger I was quite good at athletics but never the guy who was winning all the races. It’s new to me to be recognised.

“I have come on through the years and improved gradually to the point where I’m beating all the guys who used to beat me.

“The big goal for me is to qualify for the European juniors in Italy this summer, the qualification for that will be based on the time and the qualifying races.”

As part of Bank of Scotland’s London 2012 legacy, Bank of Scotland Local Heroes, in partnership with SportsAid, will provide support and funding to 82 emerging Scottish athletes in 2013. Over 220 Local Heroes have benefited from the programme since 2008.