INVERURIE Cross Country skiier Callum Smith is both “pleased” and “relieved” to have been selected to represent Team GB in next months Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
As was previously featured in the Herald and Times, former Inverurie Academy pupil Callum decided to take a year out from studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Edinburgh to try and secure a place on the team.
And his decision paid off as he was named as one of 19 skiiers and snowboarders selected to represent Great Britain at the 22nd Winter Olympics which begin in February.
“It’s brilliant to have made it onto the team,” said Callum.
“I’m very excited. I took the year out of university with the hope of qualifying so I’m so pleased and relieved to have made it.
“I’m not going in with a placing in mind as I’ve never been before and I’m not entirely sure what to expect. It’ll be a case of putting in my best performance and see what happens on the day.”
Smith’s main events are the 15km Classic and the Skiathlon, which involves skiers completing a 30km course, stopping halfway through to change from classic skis to skating skis.
He is currently in Italy enjoying some final preparations, with the World U23 Championships also in nearby Trentino which began on Monday, before heading to the south west city of Sochi.
Italy has been a home-from-home of late, Smith having raced in Trentino in December at the World University Games before remaining in the country over Christmas for three weeks of altitude training.
Smith is one of around 160 students to be supported by Winning Students, Scotland’s national sports scholarships for student athletes.
He receives funding support and the academic flexibility required to perform at the highest level in both his sport and his studies.
“Winning Students is the most significant funding contribution I receive and has been very important for me, especially this year,” said Smith.
“I’ve been able to spend it on travel costs to get to training and competition.
“And the study support is huge too. It was surprisingly simple to take the time out this year and the university has been really good with me over the last two years when I needed time for world championships.
“I always take work away with me, even now when I don’t need to be studying, I’ve my Chemical Engineering books with me just to keep my mind occupied and not totally lost in skiing.”
Find out more about Winning Students at www.winningstudents-scotland.ac.uk