The Scottish Institute of Sport Foundation has provided £22,000 to support two of Scotland’s most promising downhill mountain biking stars in partnership with Scottish Cycling. Ruaridh Cunningham, (aged 18 from Stow) and Chris Hutchens (aged 17 from Oban) are being supported through the Foundation’s ‘Winning Scots’ programme and have already been selected to represent Great Britain in the Mountain Bike World Championships due to be held at Fort William in September.

The funding from The Foundation has allowed Ruaridh and Chris to take part in a number of training camps and compete at every round of the World Cup competition circuit. This experience has allowed the riders to hone their skills and improve their performance in preparation for the 2007 World Championships. Without this funding, Scotland could have lost two of its most capable young sportsmen, as both Ruaridh and Chris would have had to self-fund their training and participation for the World Championships, which would be a serious financial drain on their families. The funding has also allowed Chris and Ruaridh to receive coaching support and mentoring throughout the year, providing important support for the young hopefuls.

Commenting, Graham Watson, executive director of The Foundation, said: “Our goal is to help identify and develop talented young Scots who have the potential to win on an international stage. Ruaridh and Chris are two rising stars who are capable of winning on home soil in September.  It’s important that we nurture that talent and create a legacy from events like the World Championships at Fort William to get successful young Scots like this on the GB radar.”

The Foundation has also donated £10,000 to fund the development of a Scottish-based downhill mountain bike talent team programme and it is Scottish Cycling’s ultimate goal to have the British mountain bike talent team based in Scotland. Jackie Meekison, director of operations at Scottish Cycling, added: “Downhill mountain biking is quickly becoming a major cycling discipline and one which the UK excels at. The development of a specific talent team will help to nurture the young talent throughout Scotland and, by giving downhill the support it needs, will help to push Scottish riders to the forefront of this exciting sport.”

Scottish Institute of Sport Foundation Ruaridh Cunningham, (aged 18 from Stow) and Chris Hutchens (aged 17 from Oban