Arran triathlon club runs up Scottish first

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Arran Junior Triathlon Club is going from strength to strength, developing the first School of Sport for Triathlon in Scotland and recruiting a new coach to chase up further successes.

The club was only formed in early 2016 but has already hosted its own Island-2-Island Triathlon and competed in the Scottish Junior Triathlon Nationals, bringing home a Scottish Junior National winner in Grace Popplewell.

Head coach Craig Wood, a competitive triathlete, formed the Arran Junior Triathlon Club when he moved to Arran and realised what an incredible landscape the island had for triathlon.

Now with a significant percentage of school-aged children on the island involved, the club has teamed up with Arran High School to create the School of Sport for Triathlon.

The first of its kind in Scotland, the school of sport will work to provide focused training for eight students each year. The students will have training incorporated into the curriculum along with attending club sessions.

The unique partnership is supported by Triathlon Scotland and is part-funded by Sport Scotland for a period of two years initially. This funding is being used to employ a lead coach for the school of sport.

This coach will help grow the junior triathlon club and develop young athletes in line with British Triathlon’s athlete development framework.

Triathlon Scotland’s national development manager Calum Reid said the appointment of a lead coach for the island was a great opportunity for the sport of triathlon.

‘We’re incredibly excited to be working with Arran High School and Arran Junior Triathlon Club in this innovative approach to developing triathlon in a rural area,’ said Mr Reid.

‘The job is a great opportunity for a coach to be involved in developing the first School of Sport for Triathlon in Scotland.’

Applications for the lead triathlon coach role closed this week. The post, which pays up to £12,000 per year for 10-15 hours a week, is supported by Triathlon Scotland and is part-funded by Sport Scotland for a period of 2 years initially.

The coach, who will report to the head teacher of Arran High School and the Arran Junior Triathlon Club committee, will be responsible for future programme planning, coach co-ordination and development, parental liaison and session delivery.

Founder and head coach Craig Wood said that he was delighted the club’s hard work was paying off.

‘Arran Junior Triathlon Club is going from strength to strength and this is really a step in the right direction for all of us,’ Mr Wood said.

‘It’s a first for Scotland and, I believe, for Europe. We’re breaking down barriers and really growing.

‘I’ll still be on board as head coach and the new lead coach will work under  Barry Smith [head Teacher] myself and the committee and push the school of sport role. We thought it might be a hard role to fill because it’s only ten hours or so, but we’ve had a few applicants.’

Mr Wood said he was delighted the club would remain free of charge and stay true to its founding goals.

‘This is a big thing for me “free for all”. It’s always been about shaping kids’ lives and building them into confident individuals, it’s not just about breeding champions but building confidence in the kids to say “I can do this”, in whatever they go on to do in life,’ he added.

The club welcomes new members from age seven onwards and details of their training sessions can be found on their website at www.isleofarrantriathlon.com or by visiting the Facebook page Arran Junior Triathlon Club.