The last few weeks have been a remarkable time for
Scottish sport and tennis in particular.
Andy Murray became world number 1 on 7 November 2016 and
will start 2017 as the man to beat. And brother Jamie with partner Bruno Soares
ended the year as the world number 1 doubles partnership. An amazing
achievement for the Murray brothers and their family.
And there was further glory for Scotland when Gordon Reid
winner of two Grand Slams and Olympic gold in 2016 became the number 1 wheelchair
tennis player in the world.
Many congratulations to all three who are at the top of
their game and I am sure can’t wait for 2017 and all the opportunities it
Undoubted role models their achievements should inspire
youngsters to take up sport with some hopefully following in their tracks.
However on the day after Andy Murray won the ATP World
Tour finals in London to cement his number 1 status, Clare Balding Tweeted
about Andy’s photo and the accompanying story on the front page of a national
“Wouldn't it be good if the story on the left
could have a positive impact on the story on the right?”
Yes, on the day after one of Britain’s greatest ever
athletes at the pinnacle of his sport there was a story about British children
being bottom of the world’s fitness league and Scottish children at the very
bottom. Truly depressing news.
Even sadder this story will come as no great surprise to
many as similar studies have shown similar problems for a number of years.
I was invited to say a few words at the Triathlon
Scotland AGM late last month and made mention of this story there. I was of
course preaching to the converted.
There had been a really interesting discussion earlier in
the day involving a number of our top Triathletes who formed an Inspirational
Athletes Panel. When asked what inspired them to take up sport the most common
answers were role models, an older or younger sibling who took part in sport
and their parents.
Triathlon Scotland do great work from the grassroots level
upwards of their sport but they can’t do it all on their own. The support of
parents who are either sports people themselves or are willing taxi drivers is
crucial as is the work of all the volunteers in clubs who coach or help at
events at all levels.
is no magic wand solution but it does require all of us to do our bit to try
and help improve our children’s fitness which in turn has huge physical and
mental health benefits.
Let’s build on the fantastic achievements of three Scots
on top of the tennis world. We have not been regarded as a tennis nation
before. But if we can enjoy such huge success in tennis why can’t we enjoy
similar success in other sports and the associated health and fitness benefits
which would follow?
That’s a challenge for us all.