Edinburgh teenager is selected to attend the Commonwealth Games as the youngest team member

Edinburgh swimming star Sam Downie will be the youngest participant to represent Team Scotland in this year’s Commonwealth Games when the competition kicks off tomorrow.

By Annabelle Gauntlett
Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 9:24 am

Sixteen-year-old para-swimmer Sam was diagnosed with Caudal Regression Syndrome at birth, affecting his mobility from the waist down. From a young age, Sam suffered from regular headaches, pressure sores, severe cramping, and subsequently issues with self confidence.

As a child, Sam was always keen to participate in a variety of sports, however due to his condition he was restricted from all kinds of physical contact activities.

At the age of eight, he was introduced to swimming, which quickly became his main passion.

Sam Downie representing Scotland at this year's Commonwealth Games as the youngest competitor participating

He had to adapt to a different kind of normality in the water by heavily relying on his upper body strength to manoeuvre across the water. And while it was an adjustment for Sam, his determined nature enabled him to thrive as he started to win numerous competitions at the Lothian racers club by the age of nine.

When Sam and his family discovered that he had been selected to attend the Commonwealth Games this summer, they were elated.

When asked about her son’s reaction to this huge announcement, his mum Gillian said: “We found out over the phone, prior to the official announcement, that Sam had been selected. He was shocked but quietly delighted. We did not know he was the youngest member of the team until later.”

She continued: “He’s been the youngest member of the Scottish Para Squad, British Para Squad and the World Para Swimming Championships in Madeira earlier this year, so he isn’t phased by that and seems to think it’s “quite cool”. He is meeting his Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes and loving every minute of it.”

Sam Downie at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

Now Sam is at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, attending as the youngest swimmer representing Scotland and plans to celebrate at the opening ceremony at Alexander Stadium.

Sam’s family are eager to celebrate his most recent accolades with him once he returns home after a month away for training and competition purposes.

Gillian said: “It’s such a huge achievement to represent your country at any age, but at such a young age, I am in awe of his calm, composed and determined approach to his selection and desire to give the best representation of himself in the event.”

While other youngsters will be enjoying the freedom the summer holidays bring, Sam plans to relish the time off he has in his own way by continuing to train a staggering 17 hours a week in the pool as well as working on his upper body strength in the aim of achieving an Olympic gold medal by the age of 18.

Sam Downie finishing seventh in the world for his 400 m freestyle race

Gillian said: “Sam is already making his own plans for the future so he can keep progressing forward towards his goal of being selected for Team GB for the Paralympics in Paris 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028. I have every faith in him succeeding his goal.”

She added: “I admire his resilience and commitment to the sport he loves. Despite being the youngest and new to the International scene, he’s coping really well and seems to be enjoying every minute of his Commonwealth Games experience.”

Sam Downie representing Scotland at this year's Commonwealth Games as the youngest competitor participating