Callum Skinner to open Gillespie’s

Pupil Lisa Thomson, Deputy Head Deirdre O'Brien, Design and Technology teacher Andrew Digance and S6 pupil Amy Chambers. Picture: Scott Louden

Pupil Lisa Thomson, Deputy Head Deirdre O'Brien, Design and Technology teacher Andrew Digance and S6 pupil Amy Chambers. Picture: Scott Louden

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he left school six years ago to pursue his love for cycling.

But after today, Callum Skinner will remain at James Gillespie’s High School in spirit, after teachers poignantly named their new fitness studio after the Olympic star.

The 24-year-old track cyclist rose to fame this summer after he won a gold and silver Olympic medal in Rio De Janeiro.

Hundreds gathered at the city’s home coming celebrations in September to applaud his achievements, and he was surrounded by fans desperate for selfies and autographs.

And today, Callum will take a trip back to his former school, where he will cut the ribbon alongside the headteacher and pupils to mark the opening of the “Callum Skinner Suite” boasting new fitness equipment.

Callum, who now lives in Manchester, said: “This is a big honour for me. The school was fantastic and I had a great experience while I was there as a kid.

“They were always so encouraging when it came to my cycling.”

Recalling his days at school, Callum said: “I remember sitting in the classrooms with little gas fires because the heating had packed in. It was always cold in the winter, and I remember there being leaks.

“It was falling to bits so it’s great they’ve rebuilt it.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the new buildings because it was something we pushed for when I was at school and my generation were involved in the early stages.”

Last week, Deputy First Minister John Swinney officially opened the £42.8 million rebuild of the Gillespie’s campus, with teaching blocks named after The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie author and former pupil Muriel Spark, Pakistani female education activist Malala Yousafzai and pioneering athlete Eric Liddell. Construction began in 2012.

Callum told the News he hoped his success would inspire other school pupils to embrace the sports they love.

He added: “A big part of being an Olympic athlete is to inspire others, that’s really important. I believe that everyone has their own sport, they just have to find it.

“If you have an initial love for it, it gets you through the hard times. Cycling just grabbed me.”

Headteacher Donald Macdonald said: “We are delighted Callum is taking the time out of training to come back to James Gillespie’s High School – the pupils are very pleased.

“We are showing our support for his achievements by naming our fitness suite after him.

“Callum is an inspiration and we are keen to encourage more of our pupils to get into sport, whether it be cycling, swimming, rowing or whatever they wish.

“It’ll be great to welcome him back, Callum is very level-headed and a sensible guy.”

courtney.cameron@jpress.co.uk