BEACONHURST triathlon scholar Carrie Banks has won a coveted place in Scotland’s national training squad.

Carrie, 14, was picked to join the 2017-18 Triathlon Scotland Academy following a selection weekend.

She’s part of a squad of 21 athletes – 12 girls and 9 boys – who are trained by the organisation’s coaches to compete at the highest level.

Carrie was delighted to be chosen for the squad – one of her goals since taking up triathlon at an early age.

She said: “I’m so pleased to have made the squad – I’ve known about it ever since I started racing and wanted a place once I was old enough.

“It was a tough trial and I wasn’t sure if I would get through – it was 50-50 and I had to wait a week to find out which was nerve wracking.

“I was over the moon when I got the email telling me I had a place.

“It’s so good to be part of a team and the academy will give me opportunities to learn new techniques and skills.”

Carrie, who lives in Stirling, began competing in triathlon aged 8 after joining Stirling Triathlon Club alongside her father Alan.

She joined Beaconhurst as a scholar in P6 – allowing her to combine school studies with high-level triathlon.

She is trained by Triathlon Coach Gordon Crawford at the University of Stirling combining early morning swims with after-school run sessions.

Carrie also attends training with Stirling Triathlon and Bike Clubs plus weekend camps with the Academy as well as competing in triathlon events during racing season.

She said: “I train most days and just love it. I enjoy the races for the social side of seeing friends from all over Scotland and the competitive element.

“The scholarship has helped me get better at triathlon by giving me more opportunities to train – especially with the university being so close -and with Gordon to coach me.

“I can also keep up with school work because I get extra help to catch up if I need to miss lessons for training or a competition.”

In addition to triathlon, Carrie is involved in the Parkrun community – taking part in regular 2K and 5K runs as well as volunteering.

She is also an Air Cadet and recently won the Female Sports Cadet of the Year Award for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

She would love to represent her country in triathlon at the Commonwealth and Olympic Games – but is realistic about the prospect given the small number of places available.

Carrie said: “I’ll always keep doing triathlon, but I also want to go to university so I have to keep up my schoolwork too.

“Gordon is always saying school comes first before training and racing.”

Mr Crawford is delighted with Carrie’s selection for the Academy and praised her dedication.

He said: “Carrie has worked hard for all she has achieved – she is very understated in all she has done but is tenacious and resilient.

“She enjoys the process of training for triathlon and balances this with her school work.

“My approach to coaching Carrie has been the person first and athlete second which helps in putting a balanced, individualised training and academic programme together which is age and development specific.

“Being selected for the National Academy squad is truly amazing, but not surprising, and Carrie is a credit to her family and the school she represents.”

Carrie’s mother Gillian is delighted with the support Beaconhurst provides her daughter.

She said: “Carrie follows a structured training plan provided by Gordon Crawford which allows her to train in a high-performance environment alongside some great role models who inspire her every day. 

“The plan allows her to get all her key sessions in before, during or after school which then frees up her evenings for schoolwork or other activities such as air cadets which she loves.”