Scotland is “punching above its weight” at the Winter Olympics, with athletes making up almost a third of the Great Britain team, officials have said.
A squad of 56 athletes, including 18 from Scotland of which three are from the Lothians, was named yesterday for the Games, which start in Sochi, Russia, next month.
Curler Vicki Adams (Edinburgh), short-track speed skater Elise Christie (Livingston) and freestyle skier Murray Buchan (Edinburgh) spearhead the local involvement.
Team management has set a minimum target of three medals at the Games, with both curling teams – made up entirely of Scots – among the favourites in their field.
The women’s curling team of Eve Muirhead, Adams, Claire Hamilton, Anna Sloan and Lauren Gray were the first athletes to be named on the British team last year, quickly followed by David Murdoch, Tom Brewster, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow and Greg Drummond as the men’s team. The women’s team won gold at the 2013 World Championships while the men won bronze.
A number of staff based at the sportscotland Institute of Sport in Glasgow are also travelling to Russia to support the British team, with physiotherapists, doctors and a psychologist helping the athletes prepare for the events.
Mike Whittingham, director of high performance at sportscotland, said: “I am immensely proud that so many Scots have been selected to represent Great Britain in Sochi. It is a significant achievement for a country, with around one-twelfth of the British population to provide one-third of the GB Olympians.
“This hasn’t happened by accident, but because of investment by government and sportscotland in the development of sport at all levels – from grassroots to high performance. The fruits of that targeted investment are borne in announcements such as this.
“2014 is a specially targeted year for sportscotland, starting with the Winter Olympics and such a strong Scottish contingent represents a great boost.”
The other Scots taking part in the Games are snowboarder Ben Kilner; Andrew Musgrave, Posy Musgrave, Andrew Young and Callum Smith in cross country skiing; and Stuart Benson in bobsleigh.
Sport minister Shona Robison said: “Scotland continues to punch above its weight and the future of Scottish winter sports is in robust health. We have much to be proud of as a nation.
“The legacy of these Winter Games will inspire young people to take to the ice or snow, the first step to representing Scotland on the world stage.
“We must never miss an opportunity to increase participation and show young people that sporting success starts on their doorstep.
“While medal success is never guaranteed at the top level, many of the athletes are coming into their events with a lot of momentum and a point to prove.
“Scots across the globe will be following their story and we are all eager for podium success in Sochi and will be cheering them on.”