A SELFLESS Wee County woman has last week been recognised for making a huge difference in athletics with her officiating knowledge and infectious enthusiasm.

Sophie Allan has been named 2022 Young Official of the Year at the sportscotland Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering (COV) Awards.

The 21-year-old, who first featured in the Advertiser in 2016 when she organised fundraising walks for Alzheimer Scotland, is an emerging athletics official volunteering her time at Pitreavie Amateur Athletics Club.

In the last decade, Sophie has attended more than 50 athletic events, clocking up more than 450 hours of volunteer time at Pitreavie AAC.

Now the highest qualified female athletics starter in Scotland, Sophie’s dedication has seen her soar to the top of her game.

Sophie, a former Lornshill Academy pupil who was also named Kubenet Volunteer of the Year at the Scottish Women in Sport Awards earlier this year, is well known for her friendly and approachable manner with a determination to develop.

She said: “For me, the best part of the officiating role is the under 11s and 13s events, when it’s their first time on the track and you know that you are planting the seed of athletics in their life – that’s what drives me to still be here.

“I think young people are the future of this sport and if we’ve got lots of athletes going through the programme, then we need people to officiate.

“I really enjoy officiating and the best way to reach your potential is to start young.

“I like to make athletes and officials feel included at events by trying to be as non-judgemental as possible and treating everyone the same.

“It’s such an honour for my officiating to be recognised in this way and I would like to thank all of the officials, coaches and athletes I work with.”

At the same awards, Stirling-based Olympic curling coach David Murdoch has been recognised for his dedication to the sport after being named High Performance Coach of the Year 2022.

The Olympic head coach for British Curling with the British and Scottish Curling World Class Olympic Programme, he led the teams to make history in the 2021-22 season with a series of impressive wins.

Under the talented coach, GB athletes became Mixed Doubles World Champions and Scotland’s men and women’s teams scooped European gold medals – something which has never been achieved before in the same season.

David said: “The athletes have really delivered on the world stage, with the highlight being last February in Beijing.

“I was hugely proud of them for what they achieved, it was brilliant not just for us coaches that work with them, but also the whole support staff and British Curling as a whole.

“I’m very honoured to receive this award, I’ve had huge support in my career from British Curling and sportscotland who have guided me through my job as head coach and I couldn’t have done it without all our coaches and athletes who have been a pleasure to work with.”