Winning titles and breaking records have been commonplace for Bishopbriggs swimmer Katie Shanahan – and her remarkable 2019 isn’t over just yet. Katie, 15, was Team GB’s most decorated athlete at the Baku 2019 European Youth Olympic Festival in July, winning half of Britain’s gold medals single-handedly as she claimed a hat-trick of titles in the pool.
If that wasn’t enough, the City of Glasgow swimmer added three silvers to return with a highly impressive six-medal haul, all whilst breaking European Youth Olympics and British age-group records in the process. Now Katie has joined illustrious company as one of 10 nominees for the annual SportsAid One-to-Watch Award, selected from around 1,000 rising British stars supported by the charity.
Launched in 2006, double Olympic medallist and diving world champion Tom Daley was the inaugural winner with the likes of Courtney Tulloch, Amber Hill and Morgan Lake following in his footsteps. Dame Katherine Grainger, Britain’s most decorated female Olympian, and five-time Paralympic para-equestrian champion Natasha Baker are among the panel of judges casting their eye over the nominees.
Winning medals and breaking European records, Katie has gathered enough memories to last a lifetime over the last 12 months and being shortlisted for the One-to-Watch Award is the perfect way to cap off a stellar year.
“I’ve achieved so much over the last year, but the highlight has to be being nominated for awards like this one with SportsAid,” said the 15-year-old swimmer. “It was such an amazing opportunity to compete at the European Youth Olympic Festival. I didn’t even expect to medal, let alone break any records, especially because it was such a high-level meet.
“I was also lucky to race at Mare Nostrum in Barcelona, but I knew that one was going to be completely different. I was coming up against Olympians, Commonwealth and European champions and I was so pleased to be almost as fast as some of the swimmers I have always looked up to.”
The year may be drawing to a close but Katie’s schedule is showing no signs of slowing down, the Scottish swimmer determined to do her best to make the Olympic team for next summer’s Games in Tokyo. SportsAid – who offer funding and recognition to young athletes at a crucial stage in their career – has proved invaluable in getting Katie to where she is today.
Tokyo is the goal, but testament to the 15-year-old’s character, she is already ready to give back to those who helped her along the way.
“SportsAid funding has been so helpful. I would not be where I am today without it,” she added. “Swimming can be expensive, and that extra money really helps to get to where I am now competing nationally and internationally.
“But now I’d love to give back to the local community where I started swimming. Most people aren’t as lucky as I am to have swimming lessons at such a young age and now I’ve love to inspire others into the sport by showing them by achievements.”
The winner of SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch Award will be revealed at the charity’s Celebrate the Next event, sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada, in London on Tuesday 19 November. Please visit www.sportsaid.org.uk for further information.