Four years ago cyclist Gemma Neill from Inverkeilor had never raced a bike before and now she is pulling on Scotland’s jersey for the Commonwealth Games.
But her journey to this point has not been an easy one. Following a successful run at the Scottish Road Race Champs in 2011 and track Scratch Champs she was hit by a double decker bus at a junction in Muirdrum.
Coach John Bremner said: “Luckily she didn’t go under. It set her season back but she still continued to progress.”
A bad crash on cobbles during a race in April 2013 also set her back damaging her only bike and left her with injuries that stopped her training for weeks following the topple.
Along with these and other personal challenges in her life she has persevered and in her words:
“I just decided I could do it.”
Gemma’s interest in the sport was piqued when offered to apply for a special Commonwealth programme ‘Gold for Glasgow’ designed to develop female athletes. Unfortunately the funding fell through.
“It didn’t go anywhere,” Gemma said, “but after that the seed had been planted that I could go to the Games and there was no stopping me.”
John took on the challenge but is usually accustomed to younger competitors as Gemma is the only adult he coaches. This is made possible by continued support from David Laing from Intervention Rentals.
“It’s an unpaid hobby for me but Interventions support for the past five years has allowed me to develop and gain further coaching qualifications.”
Gemma juggled her training with a four year nursing degree at Dundee University and approaching the end of her training she turned her focus to cycling, spending a couple of months in Holland racing at a higher level.
Gemma will participate in the road race which is on the last day of the games August 3.
“The atmosphere is going to be phenomenal,” enthused Gemma. “The route takes in lots of the big sights in Glasgow - Buchanan Street, Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow Green - from a spectators point of view it is great as it is several laps.
“It is going to be buzzing!”