Schools athletics: Bowie inspired by Olympic champion

It’s BEEN quite a month for Speyside High School’s Emma Bowie. She was one of four Scottish athletes to strike gold at the Sainsbury’s UK School Games in London and, on Saturday, she set a new personal best in the hammer at a Grand Prix Meet in Livingston.

The 15-year-old from Orton was one of the youngest competitors at the School Games, but she managed to hold her nerve to win gold in the hammer.

At Livingston, she threw even further – 45.79m – and is now ranked No 1 in the UK at under-17 level.

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Coached by Margery Swinton and a member of the Moray Road Runners Club, Emma started out her athletics career in the discus and shot putt.

“I started coaching Emma when she was 11 and she won the Scottish Schools’ Championship in discus and shot,” explained Swinton.

“She then asked to switch to hammer – which was my discipline – and she took to it like a duck to water.”

Back in November, Emma got some expert advice and some inspiration from retired Russian Olympic champion and world record-holder, Yuriy Sedykh, who was impressed by her ability during a ‘Scotland’s Got Talent’ gold group training session.

Sedykh won Olympic hammer golds in 1976 and 1980 and his world record throw of 86.74 metres still stands today.

“Emma is very coachable; she understood what I was saying and was able to do it,” said the sporting legend. “She pushed the hammer and has a good feeling and she kept the ball moving.”

Emma trains six times a week – sometimes having to make the 110-mile round trip to Inverness to get decent facilities.

She also trains in Elgin, but the throwing cage was damaged in storms last summer and is now totally buckled.

Despite the drawbacks, Emma, a fourth-year pupil at Speyside High, is even keener to succeed following her experience in striking gold in the Olympic arena in London.

“I went down there just hoping to do my best and soak everything in,” she said. “I love the hammer and definitely want to take my athletics career as far as possible.”

Next month, she will be chasing yet more gold at the Scottish Schools’ Championship at Grangemouth.

The other Scots athletes to collect gold at the UK School Games were Ross Maxwell (Cathkin High School) in the high jump, Robbie Nairn (Currie Community High School) in the shot putt and Mhairi Patience (Douglas Academy) in the 80m hurdles.