Sports Review of 2021 Part Two

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July

Oban Lorne Rugby Football Club’s Jonathan Sayer was named as one of 10 winners of the inaugural Royal Bank RugbyForce Young Ambassador programme. In a drive to get more young people into club boardrooms and to improve diversity and representation in rugby, the Young Ambassador programme sees grassroots heroes aged 18-35 from amateur clubs across Scotland put forward ideas for projects that will help their club create stronger connections with their communities, build a legacy and make positive societal change. Coming out on top against competition from across the country, Jonathan’s Young Ambassador programme will see him run a recruitment campaign to increase membership at the club which traditionally faces challenges with player retention and consistency due to its rural location.

Royal Bank Rugby Force 2021 Young Ambassador Jonathan Sayer. NO_T31_JonathanSayerProfile

A student water sports club based in Oban was named the University of the Highlands and Islands’ best sports club for the third year running. The Wind and Wave Club won Sports Club of the Year in this year’s Highlands and Islands Students’ Association (HISA) Awards, despite spending limited time on the water because of the Covid-19 lockdown. Club commodore Iain Walsingham and yachting co-ordinator Jamie Rodgers, who both study at the Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI, were also highly commended in the Above and Beyond – Student Award category.

The Wind and Wave Club was unable to get out on the water much this past year but commodore Iain
Walsingham, above, and other committee members have been praised for keeping the club going throughout the pandemic. NO_T31_Wind&WavesSailingClub

August

Ten hardy golfers battled it out to decide the Dalmally Gents Club Championship on August 8. Held over four preliminary rounds, with the best three scores from these being taken into the final, the ten players made the cut to contest the final. The championship, which combined handicap and scratch competitions, had been closely contested throughout the preliminary rounds with Jim Livingstone leading in the handicap and club captain Graeme MacKechnie leading in the scratch. With Graeme holding onto his lead, Angus MacGillivary, who had been sitting in second place before the final, played out of his socks with a masterclass in chipping and putting to seize the lead in the handicap and eventually take the trophy by four strokes.

Angus MacGillivary, left, Handicap Champion and Graeme MacKechnie, Scratch Champion. NO_T34_DalmallyGC_GentsClubChampionship_Winners 2021

CalMac worker Alistair ‘Ally K’ Macpherson swapped his sea legs for road ones to run the 180 miles from Glasgow to Inverness to raise funds for Highland Hospice. The 43-year-old had raised £78,000 for cancer charities before the ‘Long Run’ and, as well as smashing his goal of completing the route in under 70 hours, the father of two met his original £100,000 fundraising target by collecting more than £22,000 from this latest effort.

Alistair Macpherson raised more than £22,000 during his ‘Long Run’ from Glasgow to Inverness. NO_F33_AllyMacpherson_LongRun1

September

Known as ‘the life and soul’ of Oban Bowling Club, Donna MacLean spread cheer and laughter at her home club throughout her lifetime. Donna kept members and guests well watered among her many duties at the club. Clubmates celebrated her life by renaming their traditional Ladies Day ‘Donna’s Day’ and adorning themselves, and their surroundings, in her favourite colour – purple. There were purple flowers, purple balloons, purple raffle prizes, purple bowls, purple shirts and hats – even purple hair as members paid tribute to the colourful girl who lost her life suddenly earlier this year.

Donna’s mum, Helen MacLean, foreground, joined the Oban Bowling Club ladies for their purple tribute. 20_T39_Donna’s Purple Day Group 2

The wheels of fortune were turning again for North Argyll Cycle Club (NACC) members with multiple successes at the Rothesay Cycling Weekend on the Isle of Bute on September 17 and 18. Ewan Dowd powers his way round the Isle of Bute. Ewan Dowd kicked things off, taking the win in the Juvenile Serpentine Hill climb in 59 seconds. Despite being short, the well-known climb was steep and technical, making the riders navigate up nine hairpin bends for the Juveniles and 13 for the seniors. Ewan told The Oban Times: ‘I am really happy with my performance in the hill climb, taking the lead by four seconds. A lot of it was down to line choice and knowing when to put the power down due to the greasy conditions. There was a very good atmosphere with crowds clapping, ringing bells and cheering me on.’

Ewan Dowd powers his way round the Isle of Bute. Photograph: Paul Hornby. NO_T40_NAC_EwanDowd_Bute_2

October

What started off as a new sporting hobby five years ago has become an exciting way of life for 30-year-old Miguel Alvarez. Miguel was declared winner of his bout at the SGI tournament on October 9. In July 2016, Miguel and a few of his friends responded to a request from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) enthusiast and blue belt Gareth Butterfield who was looking for training partners in Fort William. However, before the end of the year, Miguel had not only had a go, but was good enough to compete against grapplers from across the country, representing ‘Fort BJJ’ Club. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art and combat sport based on grappling and submission holds. A year after helping to set up the club, Gareth left the area for a new job in Canada, but his interest in the sport continued, its running being taken over by Miguel with fellow members Eddie Lopez and Paul McGillivray.

Miguel is declared winner of his bout at the SGI tournament on October 9. Photograph: Scott Hills. NO_F43_Fort BJJ_Miguel Alvarez_Winner

A golf tournament organised by Oban Sports Shop  raised almost £900 for The Argyll Wellbeing Hub. The business decided to stage the event following a good year of Adidas golf clothing and footwear sales to golfers, many of whom are members of Glencruitten Golf Club. Billy Thomson told The Oban Times: ‘This was our first time hosting a golf event and we decided to support The Argyll Wellbeing Hub, with all proceeds from the entry fees, kindly donated by Glencruitten Golf Club, and our raffle going to the charity. Gavin Hill, Neil Allan and Kenny Campbell were the winning team, with the runners up only one shot behind and the third placed team only a single shot behind them.

Billy Thomson, left, from the Sports Shop with Argyll Wellbeing Hub duo Des MacMillan and Lorraine King. NO_T44_TheSportsShop_CharityGolf

November

Oban Otters had a busy weekend with swimmers competing at the West District time trials at Tollcross in Glasgow and attending the Scottish Swimming Young Leaders training weekend in Largs. Andrew Boyle, 16, and Rachel Carre, 15, travelled with new head coach Shannon McCuish to Tollcross in Glasgow for the West District time trials. This was the swimmers’ first competitive meeting for more than two years and a tough event to qualify for due to the high standards and number of competitors. Andrew and Rachel both excelled, achieving six personal bests out of seven races between them, in challenging events including 200m butterfly and 200m individual medley.

Andrew Boyle and Rachel Carre represented Oban Otters at the recent West District Time Trials at Tollcross. NO_T49_ObanOtters_AndrewBoyle_RachelCarre

Three health and wellbeing volunteers are working together to offer oriental exercise classes which will benefit the wider community. Held in Taynuilt Sports Pavilion, Veronica Kennedy’s Tai Chi classes have started up again with the additional offering of a Qigong class, led by volunteers Marlyn Turbitt and Emma Grant. During the pandemic, Marlyn and Emma trained as Level 1 Qigong Shibashi instructors on an intensive online course with Des Lawton of Pro Holistic in Glasgow.

Tai Chi with Veronica Kennedy. NO_T48_tai chi with VeronicaKennedy (7)

December

Magnus Bradbury made his 100th Edinburgh Rugby appearance when the capital club hosted Benetton at the DAM Health Stadium in Round 7 of the United Rugby Championship. As Edinburgh Rugby celebrated ‘club appreciation night’, which saw the squad pull on the socks of their boyhood clubs to recognise the importance of the wider grassroots game, Magnus represented his hometown team, Oban Lorne, while reaching the landmark appearance seven years on from making his professional debut at the age of 19. After producing a typically physical performance, carrying dominantly for the 80 minutes, the 26-year-old back row also secured the Player of the Match award following his team’s 24-10 victory.

Magnus Bradbury, left, is presented with his 100th cap by Grant Gilchrist during a United Rugby Championship match between Edinburgh Rugby and Benetton at the DAM Health Stadium on December 3 in Edinburgh. Photograph: Ross Parker/SNS Group. NO_T50_MagnusBradbury_100thAppearance2-30hlk89fo-scaled.jpg

Early bird tickets went on sale for the Fort William leg of the 2022 Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, as the event gears up for its much-anticipated return to the famous Nevis Range track on Aonach Mor. The exhilarating event is ‘Back in the Fort’ and will attract thousands of spectators to witness more than 250 of the world’s top riders battle it out for the Downhill World Cup and 4X Pro Tour titles on Saturday May 21 and Sunday May 22 next year. The event has a new main partner for 2022. Online bike retailer Freewheel.co.uk is sponsoring the event as well as being part of the Elite Madison Saracen Team. After two years of cancellation due to Covid, the Fort William World Cup will be back with a bang and will feature homegrown champion Reece Wilson, who won the 2020 Downhill World Championships – the first Scot to take the title.

2020 UCI Downhill World Champion Reece Wilson. Photograph: Ross Bell. NO_F49_MTBWorldCup_ReeceWilson