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Over the years, Scotland’s independent schools have produced their fair share of famous faces. From politicians and Olympic athletes to actors and novelists, our schools boast a long line of alumni who make a real impact on society and are great role models for young people today. 

Independent schools across Scotland offer exceptional opportunities for their pupils to explore countless different sporting activities. For example, pupils at George Watson’s College enjoy access to four sports halls, a swimming pool and even a boathouse, while The Mary Erskine School have a proud culture of sporting excellence, with sporting participation encouraged across all levels of the school. 

In this blog, we’ll focus on the sporting stars that Scotland’s independent schools have produced and what they’ve gone on to accomplish in their athletic careers.


Sir Chris Hoy

Possibly Scotland’s most well-known sportsperson of recent years, Sir Chris Hoy is a former pupil of George Watson’s College in Edinburgh. 

Chris enjoyed amazing success in the velodrome, representing Great Britain in four Olympic Games and winning six Olympic gold medals overall. After being voted Sports Personality of the Year in 2008, he was awarded the honour of a Knighthood in 2009.

Now retired from competitive cycling, he has gone on to indulge his passion for motorsports by taking part in the gruelling Le Mans 24 Hours. Chris has also launched his own range of bikes, and has even written a series of children’s books – so there’s no sign of him slowing down anytime soon!


Polly Swann

During her successful rowing career, Polly Swann has been crowned both as World and European Champion, as well as scooping a silver medal in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. 

Having attended George Heriot’s School, Polly then went on to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh before taking a break to concentrate on rowing. In 2019, having completed her medical degree she returned to the Great Britain rowing squad and qualified for a place at the 2020 Olympics. 


Lynsey Sharp

Lynsey Sharp attended The Mary Erskine School (part of ESMS) in Edinburgh and has enjoyed a thriving career on the running track. As a track and field athlete competing in the 800 metres, Lynsey is the 2012 European Champion and represented Great Britain at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and again in 2016 in Rio. 

Inspired by her mother and father, who were also both track and field athletes, Lynsey ran from a young age and graduated with a degree in Law at Edinburgh Napier University only a few weeks before competing in the Olympics. 


John Beattie 

Although he spent his formative years in the exotic countryside of North Borneo and attended boarding school in Malaysia, former Rugby Union player and broadcaster John Beattie returned with his family to Scotland when he was eleven where he attended Wellington School in Ayr. 

After graduating from the University of Glasgow with a degree in Civil Engineering, John went on to earn a total of 25 caps for Scotland in his rugby career, touring twice with the British Lions team to South Africa and New Zealand. A knee injury cut short his playing career however, and he decided to retrain as a chartered accountant before beginning his broadcasting career. 

Now serving as a presenter on The Nine, John also writes a blog for the BBC. 


If you’re considering a Scottish independent school for your child’s education, why not take a look the individual ethos and range of sporting and other activities on offer – there is sure to be something that will spark their interest. You never know which track it might lead them to – running or otherwise!


Do you want your child to attend a school where their interests and talents are nurtured? SCIS can help – use our find a school tool or get in touch with us today.