Thursday, August 8, 2019

EYOF Round-Up

It’s almost two weeks since the dust settled in Baku for the European Youth Olympics Festival of 2019. An impressive performance from Team GB saw the youngsters claim 25 medals, placing second in the medal table overall. Of those 25 medals, 8 were won by City of Glasgow Swim Team’s Katie Shanahan and Mark Ford.

Katie (15) and Mark (16) were the only two Scots on the GB team and were delighted with their experience at the event. Katie, who won six medals overall, has had an excellent year across age group events, with multiple records broken over the course of the season. The Glasgow swimmer spoke of her pride of winning three golds and silver in Baku.

“It was another amazing experience. I’ve been really lucky this summer to be given so many opportunities. I really enjoyed being part of a multi-sport event. It had a completely different atmosphere and I enjoyed being able to socialise with athletes from other sports and other countries, in the athlete’s village. There seemed to be more of a buzz about the team especially as the whole of Team GB travelled together and lived together.”

Katie won her first gold in the 400IM, setting a new championship record in the process. Yet, it was the 200m backstroke gold that pleased her most. A strong swim of 2:11.20 was not only another championship record but also a British and Scottish record for her age group.

“I think that was the best moment for me. It’s the first time in a while that I’ve been able to go fresh into the event. I decided to take full advantage of the opportunity and I attacked my race plan from the start. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked up at the board and saw that I’d won but had also broken the EYOF record."

Katie’s team-mate Mark was equally impressed with the event, leaving him hungry for more.

 “It was an amazing experience, it felt like you were competing for something bigger, something with legacy. I leave this experience with a lot learned about bigger and better competitions and competitors but I also leave with a clear head knowing exactly what I need to do to get better and strive for the next big goal.”

Both swimmers spoke candidly of their opportunity to meet new people and sharing their experience with new GB team-mates. Mark illustrated the bond in highlighting his favourite moment from Baku.

“My highlight from the trip had to be leaving at the airport, seeing everyone crying which is weird because it sounds sad but it really isn’t. We all became so close on that trip was amazing to see. It was a testament to everything we had been through together in the short space of time and how much chemistry we had as a team ourselves.”

Katie and Mark both return to Glasgow in a better place, with Coach Ian Wright planning on setting new targets for the pair over the summer months.

“I’m obviously delighted with the performances at this event. It’s been a great year for them both. Mark in particular still has a few years left as a junior so there isn’t a lot of pressure on him but we can maybe look to the Commonwealth Games in 2022 as a realistic target. Katie has exceeded our expectations, her performance levels have been amazing and she’s really smashed it out the park. She’s had quite an interrupted run of qualifiers and subsequent wins, with people now knowing her name. We don’t want to burden her with expectation as she’s still so young but she is a grounded girl and there is no doubt she will go far.”

You can view all the results from EYOF 2019 here.