Rhona Martin honoured in Scottish Sports Hall of Fame

Six of Scotland’s most celebrated sporting heroes became the latest inductees into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame tonight (Thursday November 15).

Archie Gemmill (association football), Rhona Martin MBE (curling), Margaret McEleny MBE (swimming), Ken Scotland (rugby), Belle Moore (swimming), and Willie Anderson (golf) were recognised at a ceremony held at the National Museum of Scotland, in Edinburgh.

Congratulating the 2012 inductees, Louise Martin CBE, chair of sportscotland and of the Hall of Fame selection panel, said:

“I am delighted to be welcoming another six sporting legends into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame today.

“Scottish sport is currently on a massive high after the amazing performances of our athletes at London 2012 and Andy Murray’s first grand slam victory at the US Open, but it is also important to remember the significant contributions made by our past champions.

“Throughout their careers Archie, Rhona, Maggi, Ken, Belle, and Willie have all shown the determination and dedication it takes to succeed in their chosen sports. Each and every inductee is a credit to the country, fully meriting their place in the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame.”

Dr Gordon Rintoul, Director, National Museums Scotland, said:

“I am delighted to welcome six prestigious new inductees to the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame. Sport is an important part of Scotland’s culture and through celebrating the achievements of the past we can encourage the sportsmen and women of the future.”

Launched in 2002, the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame has been developed through a unique partnership between sportscotland and National Museums Scotland to recognise and celebrate Scotland’s rich sporting heritage. By providing a public record of Scotland’s greatest sportsmen and women, the Hall aims to inspire younger generations and promote a culture of Scots recognising and celebrating Scottish success across a range of sports.

Archie Gemmill was undoubtedly one of the most outstanding footballers of his generation, and became an instant national icon after scoring a fabulous goal against the Netherlands in the 1978 FIFA World Cup. As well as representing Scotland on 43 occasions, with 22 as captain, Archie also enjoyed a glittering club career. The Paisley-born midfielder started out at hometown club St Mirren in 1964, before going on to star for a host of sides in England, including Derby County, Wigan Athletic, Birmingham City, and Preston North End.  But it was at Nottingham Forest where Archie enjoyed greatest success, helping guide the team to win the coveted European Cup in 1979; the League Cups in 1978 and 1979 and becoming First Division champions in the 1977-78 season.

Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Archie said:

“Being inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame is up there with anything that I have achieved in my career because it’s not just for football, but for all sports.

“And when you look at the standard of the footballers in the Hall of Fame – such as McCoist, Dalgleish, Law, Greig, Bremner and Baxter – they are unbelievable players and to be associated with people like that really is humbling.

“It would be nice to think that young people can be inspired by successful sportsmen and women, but anyone who gets to top of their sport has to be single-minded and have worked very hard to get there.

“You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t put in the hard work then you will never get there and the talent will go by the wayside. And that’s what connects everyone inducted into the Hall of Fame, they all had the determination to succeed.”

The 2002 Winter Olympics provided Rhona Martin’s most notable sporting achievement, as she skipped the Great Britain women’s curling team to gold – the first for Team GB at the Winter Olympics since Torvill and Dean in 1984. The achievement of the team – which included Debbie Knox, Fiona MacDonald and Janice Rankin – attracted a huge amount of interest and they arrived home to a heroes’ welcome. The stone that clinched the victory, dubbed the stone of destiny, is now housed in the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame exhibition in the National Museum of Scotland. Rhona, from Ayrshire, received an MBE in 2002 in recognition of her services to curling.

After retiring from competition in 2006, Rhona took up coaching and went on to graduate from the UK Sport “Elite Coach” development programme. She is now Head Coach for women’s curling at the sportscotland institute of sport.

Rhona, who is the first curler ever to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, said:

“To be asked to be part of the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame is absolutely amazing and a huge honour.

“I remember being at the launch of the Hall of Fame, just after we won our gold medal in Salt Lake City, and I was in awe at the people who were getting inducted – so now to be part of that is unbelievable.

“To be the first curler in the Hall of Fame is great, and I suppose I’ve now set a trend for the people I coach and given them something else to aim for.”

Paralympic athlete Maggi McEleny is one of Scotland’s most successful female swimmers of recent times and has 15 Paralympic medals to her name – including three golds.

Maggi – who suffers from paraplegia and epilepsy – represented Great Britain at four consecutive Paralympic Games from 1992 to 2004. The Greenock swimmer still holds the European record for the 50 metre breaststroke and the world record for the 100 metre breaststroke. She was affectionately nicknamed “Mad Maggi” by team mates due to her incredible drive and commitment to overcome serious illness. At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Maggi carried the flag at the opening ceremony and later that year was awarded an MBE for her achievements.

Unfortunately Maggi had to retire from competitive swimming due to a tracheostomy prior to the Beijing Olympics, but she continues to swim with the aid of a device called a larkel and inspires others by coaching swimmers at her former club, Port Glasgow Otters.

On her induction to the Hall of Fame, Maggi said: “When I found out that I was to be part of the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame I was in total disbelief. This is up there with receiving my MBE and winning my individual gold medal at the Sydney Games.

“The Paralympics in London marked a real turnaround in the attitudes of the public and I think that they now appreciate that Paralympians are elite athletes. We train hard, or sometimes harder, than able-bodied athletes and to see how the London Games were received was amazing.

“The club where I coach has already seen our numbers increase, including disabled swimmers, as young people have become inspired – it’s great to see.”

Talented sportsman Ken Scotland began his international rugby career in a blaze of glory by scoring all six points in a win over France, aged just 20. He went on to represent his country 27 times between 1957 and 1965 and was part of the British Lions tour to Australia, New Zealand, and Canada in 1959, where he amassed over 22 appearances. An exciting, attacking full-back, Ken also played 10 games for the Barbarians, as well as for club sides Royal Signals Catterick, Cambridge University, London Scottish, Ballymena, Leicester, Heriots FP, and Aberdeenshire.

Ken, from Edinburgh, is recognised as a world-class and gifted player who is often referred to as ahead of his time, due to his attacking flair. Ken’s abilities on the sports field were such that he also represented Scotland at cricket.

He said: “Over the years I’ve played with several hundreds of people and they have all played their part in helping me reach this honour.

“If you are playing alongside really top-class players then that, in turn, helps your game. That was particularly true of playing on a Lions tour when everyone around you is playing to a very high standard and is on your wavelength.

“So to be picked out from all these great players and be put in the Hall of Fame alongside people like Gavin Hastings, Finlay Calder, and David Sole is a real privilege.”

Born in Govan, Belle Moore competed in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, which was the first year that women’s swimming was permitted. At the age of 17 years and 226 days, Belle was the lead member of the winning relay team and is the youngest British woman ever to win an Olympic swimming gold at a Summer games. Belle is also Scotland’s only female swimmer to ever win an Olympic gold medal.

She started swimming at a young age, when Glasgow City Council introduced mandatory lessons for all pupils, and by the age of 17 she was already an instructor. Belle returned to Glasgow after the 1912 Olympics, but emigrated to the state of Maryland in the USA with her new husband, George Cameron, two years later. She kept swimming and the following year set the 200 metre world record, which remained intact for many years. Belle taught hundreds of youngsters how to swim before she died in 1975, aged 80.

William Anderson was born in North Berwick, East Lothian, in 1879, but emigrated to the United States in 1896, aged 16, with his father and brothers, and went on to experience unrivalled success in golf. His initial interest in the sport developed through being brought up on the links of North Berwick and a year after emigrating to the states he played in the third US Open and finished in second place, one stroke off the winner Joe Lloyd.

Fondly known as Willie, he went on to experience great success by becoming the first golfer to win four US opens (1901, 1903, 1904 and 1905) and is still the only man to win three consecutive titles. His strong, flat, full-sweeping action – known as the “St Andrews swing” – netted him his first significant win in 1899 at the Southern California Open, prior to his run of majors.

As well as winning countless other golf titles, Willie also worked as a golf professional at 10 different clubs in 14 years, teaching and inspiring many amateurs. Sadly he died aged 31.

Tonight’s ceremony brings the total number of inductees to 93 representing 28 sports: 15 footballers, 10 from athletics, 12 from swimming; 8 from golf, 10 from rugby and 6 boxers. Also in attendance will be fellow members of the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame, athletes, sports organisations and individuals representing the breadth of Scottish sport, gathered to honour the six new inductees who have made the nation proud.

In tune with induction criteria applied to sports halls of fame around the world, nominees for induction into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame must be either: a person born in Scotland, a person who, under the rules of the relevant governing body, was eligible to compete for Scotland or a person who has resided in Scotland during the major part of their sporting career. Also they should have normally retired from top-level participation in their sport for a minimum of five years. However, the interpretation of the criteria is at the discretion of the independent selection panel.

The independent selection panel comprises leading sports historians, journalists and administrators: Louise Martin CBE, Chair, Richard Brickley MBE, Jon Doig, Doug Gillon, Prof. Grant Jarvie, Andy Mitchell, Robin Morris, Colin Pearson, Alison Walker, David Webster OBE, and Norman Mair.

Picture by: Rob Eyton-Jones / sportscotland

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