A sporting look back at 2021 – January to June

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Just a few of the sporting highlights from the pages of your Argyllshire Advertiser during 2021.

This week we look back to a Covid-hit January to June period.

Look out for more next week.

January

As the country faced up to the latest Scottish Government coronavirus lockdown, set to be in place at least until the end of January, the Camanachd Association announced a delay to the start of the shinty season.

The sport has been played over a summer league season, beginning in March, for the past 18 years – although this was interrupted by the pandemic in 2020.

Association chief executive officer Derek Keir said: ‘It is clear with the government’s “stay at home” guidance that shinty cannot currently take place and this will delay any club’s pre-season plans.

‘Considering this and the safety of all involved I want to advise that we will delay the start of the 2021 shinty season to allow for an appropriate degree of pre-season preparation following lockdown.’

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Camanachd Association chief executive officer Derek Keir. no_a15DerekKeir01

February

Organisers of the popular Crinan Puffer race decided back in February that it would be run ‘virtually’ for 2021, over the standard distance of eight miles or a five-km fun run option, on a route of the runner’s (or walker’s) choice.

The popular event, run in pre-pandemic years beside the canal between Crinan and Ardrishaig, is organised by the operator of Mid Argyll Community Pool, Mid Argyll Community Enterprises Limited (MACEL).

In a statement, MACEL said: ‘Due to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the restrictions that we all live under during this pandemic, we have decided to run a virtual event.

‘We would like to take this opportunity to thank our title sponsors, Scottish Sea Farms, for its continued and very generous sponsorship. Thanks also go to Midton Acrylics and kit-you-out.co.uk for their support.’

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The popular Crinan Puffer race would go virtual for 2021. 06_a17CrinanPuffer10

March

On International Women’s Day, the UK’s leading charity for sports coaching called for more women to become coaches – something, it said, would be ‘fundamental’ to recovery from the pandemic.

Pre-Covid, female coaches made up 43 per cent of the workforce, down from 46 per cent in 2017. And this number may continue to fall upon return to play, as it is anticipated that only half of coaches are expected to return to paid positions.

UK Coaching is aiming for gender equity within coaching over the next five years.

Emma Atkins, director of coaching at UK Coaching, said: ‘Our research shows that it’s really important that when starting to get active, women and girls are more comfortable if their coach is the same gender.’

Visit ukcoaching.org to find out how you can get into coaching.

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2019 Highland Young Coach of the Year, Fort William’s Kirsty Delaney, is a great example of a top female coach. NO-F47-Kirsty-delaney

April

Golfing was being played Covid-cautiously, and before the Easter Trophy saw 29 gents and six ladies take to Lochgilphead golf course, Tommy Angus had the honour of raising the club’s new flag to officially open the course for the season.

A spokesperson for Lochgilphead Golf Club described the Easter Trophy golf, like the weather, as ‘mixed’.

The gents’ winner was Alister MacArthur, while Margaret MacKinnon won the ladies’ section.

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Tommy Angus had the honour of raising the club’s new flag to mark the start of a new season. no_a15GilpGolf02

May

Golf-mad nine-year-old Connor McCrae was fast rising through the junior golf ranks, aiming for his dream of playing at the US Masters.

Such is his level of skill that he was playing with adult members at his home Tarbert Golf Club. All this after playing golf for just a year.

‘He was a natural as soon as he started,’ said club president and captain Kenny MacFarlane. ‘He hits the ball so well and he’s a well-mannered boy too.’

When asked what the best thing is about competing, Connor replied: ‘You get a bacon roll.’

Elsewhere, Lochgilphead Red Star Youth Football committee was delighted to receive a further £5,000 from Ardrishaig Community Trust, the third of three annual instalments  totalling £15,000 between 2019 and 2021. The cash would go towards new strips and equipment plus professional Coerver training.

The senior Red Star team, meanwhile, celebrated a new sponsor deal with RJD Brickwork. The club was hopeful of getting back to training shortly.

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Connor McCrae, already with a clutch of medals from his short golfing career. 51_a22ConnorMcCrae05

June

Sports such as outdoor bowling and rugby returned to Mid Argyll after a lengthy lay-off in the pandemic.

Mini rugby training took place at Lochgilphead’s Ropework pitch. The first session was held on June 1 with 11 kids, with more to follow.

Mid Argyll also saw its first adult session of touch rugby in Lochgilphead for almost a decade. Aged from teenagers to over-60s, 16 people turned up from all over Mid Argyll to the Ropework.

In sailing, Mid Argyll sailor Lorenzo Chiavarini from Bellanoch won his first major event since returning from long-term injury.

At the Allianz Regatta in Medemblik, the Netherlands – part of the Hempel World Cup Series – Lorenzo scooped gold in the ILCA 7 (formerly Laser) class.

‘It’s taken basically a year and a half of physio and gym work to get back to where I was’ explained Lorenzo. ‘But I’m happy to have come back and won my first big event.’

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Lorenzo Chiavarini in racing action during the ILCA 7 event in the Netherlands. no_a24Lorenzo_AllianzRegatta02