School medal champs gain recognition

East Renfrewshire kidsin medal ceremony
East Renfrewshire kidsin medal ceremony

Scores of youngsters have been running, jumping, throwing, kicking, bouncing and batting balls as well as firing arrows in a bid for Olympic gold.

And they got that winning feeling when two real-life Olympians – Andrew Mullen and Mark Bennett – presented them with gold, silver and bronze medals last week.

Almost 150 young people took part in East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure’s Road to Rio Passport initiative that encouraged them to try out different sports, arts and cultural activities.

In the run-up to this year’s Olympic Games, a Road to Rio Passport was given to every school pupil and each time they tried out a new sport, or activity, their teacher, leader or coach signed their passport.

And depending on how many activities the youngsters tried, they were presented with a bronze medal for taking part in up to five new activities, silver for six to ten activities and gold for 16 or more new activities.

Swimmer, Andrew Mullen, (19), a former Newton Mearns Primary pupil won silver and double bronze medals in this year’s Paralympic Games joined with Glasgow Warriors rugby centre and Olympic silver medalist, Mark Bennett to hand out the medals at a special ceremony at Mearns Castle High School.

And for Andrew it was a welcome return to his former high school.

Anthony McReavy, chief executive of East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure, said: ”Our Road to Rio initiative was a great success in encouraging more young people to try out new sports, arts and cultural activities with many of them enjoying the experience so much, they continue to participate.

“And when the youngsters did try out something new for the first time, the skills they showed was very impressive.

“They liked the idea of trying something new and different and we hope we have sparked an enthusiasm for sport, arts and culture of all kinds they will take with them throughout their lives.”

Andrew Mullen said: “I was very fortunate that I found swimming as a sport straight away when I was young.

“But for many people it can take several years for them to find a sport that they enjoy and are really good at.

“The Road to Rio Passport scheme is a fun way to encourage youngsters to try different sports and sport is all about having fun.

“The more sports kids get to try the better.”