The Shetland community congratulated its three Commonwealth Games athletes with a civic reception in the town hall last night.
Swimmers Andrea Strachan and Erraid Davies, along with table tennis star Lynda Flaws were invited to the reception by convener Malcolm Bell who praised each of them for their individual success.
He also paid tribute to the hard work of the islands’ network of volunteer coaches and sporting enthusiasts who helped set the trio on the path to success, as well as their families for the support they had shown the young athletes.
Flaws was part of the table tennis squad which made history by fielding the first Scottish ladies team to win a match at the Commonwealth Games.
She told The Shetland Times the experience in Glasgow had been fantastic. While she had received many congratulations through Facebook and Twitter she said it was “really nice” to have the local community congratulate her with a civic ceremony.
“Since I have come home I’ve been completely taken aback by the amount of folk who said they had watched me on TV and said they were following what was going on. It’s really good to ken that everybody was interested.
“When you’re down in Glasgow you dinna realise how many folk are watching, or think they are interested. To be honest it doesn’t surprise me, a place like Shetland, they’re always getting behind their athletes, or musicians, or whoever it is who’s representing Shetland. It’s a very supportive community and I appreciate their support.”
Strachan reached the final of the 50m breaststroke competition in Glasgow last month. Last night she recalled the amazing atmosphere generated by supporters in the Tollcross Swimming Pool.
She also heaped praise on the level of support she had from Shetland – even from people she does not know.
“The support you get from the community is just great, so it’s great to have this [the civic ceremony] to finally get the chance … it makes you remember back to the time of the Commonwealth Games.
“It was really good, it was an experience I’ll definitely never forget. It was just an amazing experience, it was impossible to block out the noise of the crowd but it definitely helped a lot. I’ve never stood in front of a crowd that was that loud before.”
Strachan’s fellow swimmer, teenager Erraid Davies, became one of the faces of the games after her bronze medal-winning swim in the final of the 100m breaststroke in the Women’s Para-Sport category SB9 category.
The Anderson High School pupil said: “It’s really good for everybody to get together [and congratulate us]. It’s been really good, it’s calmed down quite a bit now … I’m trying to get back to normal.”
Earlier in the evening Mr Bell said simply qualifying for the games had been an “incredible achievement … and testament to the hours of hard work and dedication”.
To go on and perform so well was indicative of the sporting culture locally. He praised the coaches saying: “I am truly in awe at the way they work away quietly year after year and have the foresight to identify at an early age the precocious talent which then has to be carefully coached and nurtured in to the kind of performances that we were all thrilled to watch at the Games a few weeks ago.”
Shetland MSP Tavish Scott joined in the praise. “There aren’t many parts of Scotland who have been able to recognise three athletes from a population our size, with all the success that that’s shown.”
• More on the civic reception in this week’s Shetland Times.