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SportsAid Scotland Grant Recipients 2023

Tuesday 21st March 2023, 2:47pm

The recipients of the 2023 SportsAid Scotland (formerly Scottish Sports Aid) grants have been announced, with five Scottish climbing athletes nominated by ClimbScotland receiving awards.  

The charity provides financial assistance in the form of grant awards to talented sporting youngsters in the 12- 22 year age range, and to disability athletes of any age who are already competing at national level in their age group and have the potential to represent Scotland at senior level.

The awards aim to help athletes with their travel and training costs, and will hopefully assist them in becoming Scotland's future sporting stars.

We asked each of the five athletes receiving an award this year to tell us a little bit about themselves and their plans for the future:

“I started climbing by chance when I was 8 years old, as I lived near to EICA Ratho in Edinburgh, the UK’s biggest climbing centre. I worked my way up from kids classes to the local youth team, and then the Scottish team. I was selected for the GB Youth Team in 2018 and I have competed internationally since. Last year I was selected to the GB senior team, and I have been reselected for 2023.

“My best competition results to date include bronze at the Continental Youth Bouldering Cup in Portugal in 2022, 9th at the Youth World Championships 2021 (Boulder) and 11th (Combined). I've taken gold or silver at every youth national since the start of 2019. I also made the semi-final at my first senior international competition, the European Cup in Prague last May. In September, I debuted on the World Cup stage in my hometown of Edinburgh which was an amazing opportunity.

“This year I have taken and gap year and I’m living in Sheffield to further my climbing. I have been selected to compete at senior European Cups with potential for World Cups. I am aiming to progress through as many rounds as possible at these competitions. It is my last year in junior, so my goal is to pick up final positions and medals at the European Youth competitions and Youth World Championships in South Korea. Competing at the LA 2028 Olympics is a long-term goal of mine.”

“My first memories of speed climbing were super chaotic Scottish Youth Speed Championships, where no one had a clue who would win because none of us really trained speed climbing at all! I do remember finding it incredibly fun, though, and being in awe of the ‘proper’ speed climbers, like Ian Bownes, who made the route look so effortless. So when Alan Bownes set up the Scottish Speed Development Squad back in 2018, I found myself getting totally hooked on this exciting discipline.

“The feeling of having your mind and body totally in sync up the wall, and then the rush of emotion hitting the ‘stop’ pad and seeing a new personal best on the timer above, creates this sensation that's quite hard to put into words. And then you'd see a video of yourself on the wall, notice you hesitated on a move halfway up, and realise you can climb even faster, continuing the cycle. I found this  totally gripping, and kept chipping away at my times for several years until  GB Climbing finally set up qualification pathways for a new Speed Climbing Team, of which I am now a part.

“I was fortunate enough to travel around Europe, competing in various World and Continental cups, culminating in a World Cup here in Edinburgh, where I was able to put together my best run of the season in front of family and friends. I'm looking forward to this coming season, where I hope to improve on my competition consistency and push my best times under six seconds. With it being an Olympic qualification year, competition is going to be fierce, but I'm looking forward to the challenge, and grateful to Sport Scotland for their support this season.”

“I have been a competition climber since I was 8 years old, when I fell in love with the climbing scene. Since then, I have attended national competitions throughout the UK as I strive to be the best I can be. As a result, I have been Scottish Lead and Boulder Champion for the last few years. I have also been a member of the GB Climbing Team for the last 5 years. I have had lots of experience throughout Europe at International Competitions and also competed at the last two Youth World Championships in Russia and Dallas, reaching semi-finals in Russia. 

“The highlight of 2022 was being selected to compete and experience a senior World Cup in Edinburgh. I hope to build on this experience and have further opportunities in the future to compete and final at other World Cups. 

“Although my main focus is indoor climbing, I also love climbing outdoors and have now climbed a number of 8a sport routes in Scotland and Spain. The support from SSTA award is invaluable and am thankful for receiving this.”

“I started climbing when I was 7, and I've been captivated ever since. I entered the ClimbScotland SYCC in 2015 as my first competition, and fell in love with competing.

“I only started dry tooling two years ago through the Scottish Dry Tooling Club and I've loved every part of it! I was competing at the Ice World Championships in February, and I came 4th! And last year I competed in the Lead All Nations series and came 1st overall!

“So my goal for the future is to make the Top 3 in the next Ice Climbing World Youth Championships and compete internationally for lead climbing!”

Max Milne is currently one of the most successful boulderers of GB Climbing. In 2022, Max secured a silver medal on the IFSC Bouldering World Cup Circuit. He is also the two-time British Bouldering Champion and English Bouldering Champion.

In 2021, Max secured a silver medal at the Laval IFSC Continental Lead Climbing competition. He is currently training to secure a place at the Paris 2024 Olympics in the combined (Boulder and Lead) discipline.