Despite having only just completed his first year as a senior, Cleland boxing ace Stephen Newns has earned Commonwealth Games selection.
Welterweight 69kg scrapper Stephen (19) was thrilled on Thursday to get a call revealing his inclusion in Scotland’s nine-fighter squad heading for Australia’s Gold Coast next April.
“I’m delighted to be picked for the Commonwealth Games,” said the Cleland Boxing Club star.
“It has been hard work but it has paid off.
“It was a proud moment for me when I received a call from the Scotland team manager Fraser Walker telling me that it was official, I was in our squad for Australia.
“I have not been in that country before, although my dad Stephen Snr was a Scotland coach at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006.
“So it’s a good double for the family!
“My aim is to win a gold medal out there.
“It would mean so much to me, what I have wanted since I was a young kid.”
Stephen’s remarkable year of success since joining the senior ranks has included a victory at the Scottish Elite Championships in Motherwell’s Ravenscraig Sports Facility this spring.
He also landed a silver medal at the Great Britain Championships and has boxed for Scotland at the European Championships and at top tournaments in Serbia and Finland.
“Winning that Scottish Elite title is my best achievement as a senior,” Stephen said.
“I was seeded number one for that, so got a bye into the quarter-finals.
“I made it all the way through to the final where I boxed the second seed Fraser Gorn and I knocked him out in the first round.”
The talented teenager has been a Cleland Boxing Club star since the family moved there from Newarthill three years ago.
Some observers might be shocked at the speed at which he’s come through the rankings, but that opinion does not apply to the man himself.
“I’m not surprised at how well I’ve done,” he added.
“I’m always confident and I always focus on how good I can be.
“Will to win is my biggest strength. Even if I’m behind there is always a way.
“I don’t let older opponents phase me, I just do what I can.
“And I still have more time to develop.”
Stephen is heading down to Sheffield today (Wednesday) to box in the Best of British Championship, as he tries to secure a place in Team GB.
He will fight a GB podium boxer and undergo tests including sparring, fitness and weight control.