AT Glasgow 2014, a ten year-old Toni Shaw sat in the stands. If anyone had suggested to her then that just four years later, she would be a competitor at the Commonwealth Games, she admits that she would never have believed them.
But the 14-year-old para-swimmer has defied all expectations and is currently preparing to head to Gold Coast to make her Commonwealth Games debut – and she admits that she cannot quite believe it.
“It’s really exciting,” she said. “I had a little bit of an idea that I might have a chance of making the team but when I actually got the call to say I was selected, I was pretty shocked but also really excited.”
Shaw, who is the youngest member of Team Scotland to be named so far, competes in the S9 and S10 categories and while she admits that the prospect of competing in one of the biggest and most prestigious multi-sport Games in the world is somewhat scary, she is quick to point out how excited she is by what lies in wait.
“The though of the Games are really nerve-wracking but it is really exciting as well,” the Aberdeenshire athlete said. “I’m really looking forward to staying in the Athletes Village. And I’ve never been at a competition where there’s been such big crowds as there will be in Gold Coast so that will be really cool. It is quite scary thinking I’ll be racing in front of so many people but that’s really exciting as well.
“It’s also so exciting to think that I’ll be teammates with some of the Scots who are really big names. It’s been a bit intimidating being around all of the swimmers in the senior team but they’ve all been really nice so that has helped me relax.”
Shaw has already amassed a considerable amount of international experience despite her young age having competed extensively in the Para Swimming World Series, winning medals as well as breaking records.
Shaw was also selected for the World Para-Swimming Championships in Mexico last year but due to an earthquake, the British team withdrew and she admits that her selection for the Commonwealth Games goes some way to softening that blow.
But the teenager is quick to stress that she is not setting herself too many targets in Gold Coast.
“It was exciting qualifying for the World Champs so when GB ended up not going, it was disappointing but it’s just one of those things,” she said.
“That would have been my biggest competition to date so it did motivate me to keep going and get to more major championships. Because the Commonwealth Games are my first major competition, I haven’t set myself too many targets. I’m mainly going there to get experience – but I do want to do really well.”