WITH the 2012 London Olympic Games already under way, and the official opening ceremony due to take place today (Friday), news has reached The Buteman of another Olympian with island connections.
Shona Thorburn is a member of the Canadian Olympic squad: specifically, she’s part of the country’s basketball team, who will be taking part in the Games for the first time in 12 years.
The Canadians begin their campaign against the Russian Federation this Saturday, July 28, and will face Great Britain on Monday evening.
Shona’s gran, Sandra Thorburn, was born and brought up in Rothesay, and Sandra’s brother, Stewart Shaw, still lives in the town, and works as the rector of Dunoon Grammar School.
Born in Oxford on August 7, 1982, Shona and her family moved from England to Canada when she was still young, and settled in Hamilton, Ontario.
Shona’s sporting talent won her a scholarship to the University of Utah, and saw her chosen seventh overall in the 2006 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) draft by the Minnesota Lynx.
Released by the Lynx club in 2007, she later played for the Seattle Storm, and then moved to Europe after winning a contract with the Girona club in Spain, though she plans to take her career to the next level by moving to France later this year.
Now with 74 Canadian caps to her name, Shona, who plays in the point guard position, and her Canadian team-mates secured the last qualifying place at the Olympics with a 71-63 win over Japan in the final qualifier in Ankara in Turkey on July 1.
Sandra, who now lives on the outskirts of Glasgow, told us: “I saw Shona playing against Great Britain in a warm-up match for the Olympic qualifiers at Meadowbank recently – I was the only one in the crowd cheering for Canada!
“I haven’t seen much of Shona recently because of the demands of her professional career, but we’re all thrilled to bits that she’ll be playing in the Olympics.”
Shona herself told Canada Basketball’s website (http://www.basketball.ca): “Growing up I remember watching the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and following the women’s basketball team.
“I remember when the 2000 Sydney Olympics where fast approaching, I was able to go and watch some of their practices in Toronto before they left.
“It was so inspiring to see these women working so hard, getting to know them a little then finally watching them compete in the Olympics.
“The other teams we will play have a lot more experienced players. So maybe at times nerves might get the better of us.
“That being said, we are the underdogs, we don’t have any pressure on us, so hopefully that keeps our nerves in check.”
Meanwhile, Bute’s other Olympian, footballer Jane Ross, remains on standby in the event of any injuries among the main Team GB women’s football squad, who began their group campaign against New Zealand at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Wednesday.