Part of the Disability Sport Fife mission is to celebrate success, share good practice or reflect on the role model athletes and volunteers who contribute so much to our movement.
Often the subject is a performance athlete operating at the highest level but sometimes the individual is not so well known and an inspiration to others.
Sam Fernando from Gateside and Fife AC is most definitely an athlete performing at the highest level in his sport. 2018 has been a year of “firsts” for the ex Bell Baxter High School pupil who competes in the T20 class. Sam is coached by Ron Morrison at Fife Athletic Club and his successes of the past year are just reward for his commitment to training and excellence in competition.
In 2018 Sam competed at senior level in track and cross country and was selected for Great Britain for the first time. In April Sam launched his track season with an outstanding 33:26.24 in his first ever 10,000m at the Scottish 10,000m Championships. In his first senior steeplechase in May Sam recorded a personal best of 10:10.71 for 3000m steeplechase. On the strength of those results Sam was selected to represent Great Britain at the INAS European Championship Games in Paris in July.
Sam met up with his fellow team members in London and travelled to Paris. This was the first time in Sam’s athletics career that he remained part of a team without the support of family. In Paris Sam went on to turn in two outstanding performances - bronze medal in 10,000m and gold in 3000m steeplechase. Those performances were produced on consecutive days which is testament to Sam’s level of fitness.
Within a week of his return to the UK, Sam pulled out a massive PB for 5000m - 15:40.17. Throughout 2018 Sam has run personal best times for 3000m, 5000m, 10,000m, and 3000m steeplechase.
Sam Fernando is a very special athlete with a very strong support team behind him. Sam has a hugely supportive family and a team of coaches and athletes at Fife AC who are inclusive in thinking and practice. Sam is popular, committed and is gaining in experience with every race.
I am sure this year is only the start and there is much more to come. Sam is a product of the excellent sports development system that is available to young athletes with additional support needs in Fife.
Identified by his school in the first instance for inclusion in the Bell Baxter HS cross country team and early membership of Fife AC, with its many inclusive coaches and supportive athlete members, are what set him off on the right track in the early years. In his first cross country run in the East Series it was obvious to us all that he had a hugely promising future. Well done Sam and all the best in 2019.