Mearns girl awaits call

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NEWTON Mearns hockey player Alison Howie will make her final push for Commonwealth Games selection.

The southsider has a secret weapon for dealing with the pressure — in a Winter Olympic gold medal winning auntie.

In 2002, Rhona Howie, then known as Rhona Martin, captured the hearts of the nation when she skippered Scotland’s women to the curling title at Salt Lake City .

She was again involved in the Sochi Olympics, helping to coach the women’s team to a bronze medal, but the spotlight now turns to her niece Alison to make the headlines .

A midfield player for recently crowned champions Clydesdale Western Hockey Club, 22-year-old Alison is also a full-time member of Scotland Women’s team.

The team must be whittled down from 28 to 16, plus four reserves, for the Commonwealths, and with selection day in mid-May, Alison knows it’s going to be a tough call .

“The Commonwealths are so close now but I can’t even look to those games until we’ve gotten to May 18,” she said.

“It would mean everything to be in front of my home crowd. I’ve been training hard after coming back from a hip injury.

“Rhona’s a big supporter, she’s at a lot of my games. To have someone like that in the family is fantastic . The achievements she made, it makes you strive for that.

“Not being selected would be so, so hard, especially because it’s a home Games but you are still part of the success that we will see at the Games.

“We are all one team and the success of the team will be down to everyone, all 28 original people in the squad.”

For the past few months, they have been training regularly at the new Glasgow National Hockey Centre at Glasgow Green, the venue for the Games’ hockey competition, and Alison believes it could give them the edge in the pursuit of a medal.

“We played a series against Wales recently on the pitch and they were finding it bouncy and hard to play on,” she added.

“We’re getting a chance to get used to it by playing five days a week on it so that can only be a benefit and an advantage for us.”

The Bank of Scotland Local Heroes programme, in partnership with SportsAid, continues to provide support and funding to emerging Scottish athletes.

Nearly 240 Local Heroes have benefited from the programme since 2008. Follow Scotland’s future stars at facebook.com/bankofscotlandlocalheroes.