Glasgow College student inspiring next generation of Scottish Wrestlers10 April 2015
She may only be 18, but City of Glasgow College student and Commonwealth Wrestler Shannon Hawke is already helping to develop the next generation of sporting stars.
The HND Sports Coaching & Development student reached the Bronze medal match at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Now she is involved in a Freestyle Wrestling recruitment drive across Clackmannanshire, bidding to encourage more women to try the exciting Olympic sport.
Shannon started wrestling as a 9-year-old when her cousin encouraged her along to the nearby Tullibody Wrestling Club. It is a mark of the club’s success that three of its young athletes competed at the Glasgow Games.
“We are trying to promote the sport, get a lot more people involved and also targeting females,” said Shannon. “We’ve been round all the local schools and we have opened a club in Lornshill Academy on a Monday night for beginners.
“We have a grassroots level club with a lot of youngsters coming up and we have high expectations for them.”
The British Women’s No.1 at Under 53kg has a busy season ahead, aiming to take part at this summer’s Freestyle Wrestling Junior European and World Championships. Competing at these events would be another marker along the performance pathway, with the ultimate target to compete at an Olympic Games.
She added: “Glasgow was my first Commonwealth Games and I was using it as a learning curve to gain experience, so I was very proud to get to the bronze medal match.
“To get that whole experience at my age has given me more belief. I’d like to go to the Olympics next year, and if I get the opportunity obviously I’ll go for it, but I’m still very young so right now I’m working hard to get to this year’s Junior Europeans in Turkey and Worlds in Brazil.
“The 2020 Olympics are definitely my focus long term and, getting so close to a medal in Glasgow last year is driving me forward to get to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in three years.”
Shannon is in her first year at college and is one of 150 students to be supported by Winning Students, Scotland’s national sports scholarships for student athletes. Through the programme she receives funding support and the academic flexibility required to perform at the highest level in sport and studies.
City of Glasgow is one of 31 Scottish colleges and universities which form the Winning Students network. Students at network colleges and universities benefit from a dedicated co-ordinator to ensure they can balance their studies and sport effectively.
“I’m not the first high performance athlete they’ve had in the college,” said Shannon. “So they understand what is involved and are very supportive and if I need extensions on my assessments they give me them,” she said.
“I’ve been with Winning Students for just under a year and they have helped tremendously. Although there’s not a huge amount of equipment involved in wrestling, the price of singlets and boots is high. We also go away to other countries to train with different partners and coaches, and you need funding to live over there. Winning Students have been great and if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be able to afford to train as I do.”