Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Sunday, 24 August 2008 17:40 UK

Call for Scottish Olympics team

The Scottish Government would rather Scotland had its own Olympics team

The Scottish Government has repeated its calls for Scotland to have its own, separate team at the Olympics.

Ministers said it would be good for Scottish sport. The SNP wants to hold an independence referendum in 2010 - two years before the Games in London.

However, Labour said the Nationalists were being petty and should share Britain's pride in Team GB.

The Beijing Olympics saw cyclist Chris Hoy earn the accolade of Scotland's greatest Olympian with his three golds.

His three medals helped Great Britain to its best performance for a century but if the Scottish Government is successful in its bid, Team GB in future will not include Scotland.

Sports Minister Stewart Maxwell pointed to the success of nations such as Jamaica as proof small countries can make an impact at the Olympics and believes a separate Scottish team could achieve great things.

Scotland can compete on the world stage - we proved that in the Olympics - and a Scottish team at the Olympics is the future
Stewart Maxwell
Sports Minister

He told BBC Scotland: "If you look at Jamaica, a small island nation, they won gold, silver and bronze in the women's sprint, they've got world records, they've won the men's, the women's 100 and 200 metres and the relay.

"This is an exceptionally brilliant nation - at the same time a small nation. Scotland can compete on the world stage - we proved that in the Olympics - and a Scottish team at the Olympics is the future."

Asked what Mr Maxwell would say to those Scots who would rather see Scotland's athletes play a big role in Team GB, Mr Maxwell replied: "What I would say to them, do Irish athletes want to rejoin the UK and be part of the UK team?

"Do we want to get rid of the GB team and have a European team because a European team would sweep the board?

"So I think you have to think about whether or not it's appropriate in the level you represent your own country in. I think it's quite right you represent your own country."

However, Labour said most Scots took pride in the achievements of the whole of Team GB, with Scotland's own success making it extra special.

Frank McAveety, Scottish Labour sports spokesman said: "I'm absolutely passionate about Scotland and I want Scotland to do well, but I'm also exceptionally proud of team GB's performance in the Olympics. I don't see why I should be asked to make a choice between those two."

Labour leadership contender Cathy Jamieson has called for Scotland to have its own Year of Sport in 2014.

Meanwhile, several hundred people watched the closing ceremony on a big screen in Glasgow's George Square. Events were held around the country to mark the passing of the Olympic baton from Beijing to London.

Lord Provost Bob Winter, said: "Glasgow is now officially an Olympic as well as a Commonwealth city and we share the sense of excitement with London as they count down to 2012.

"We will play our part in hosting the Olympic football at Hampden, which will be a great curtain raiser ahead of our own Commonwealth Games in 2014.

"I know that all of Glasgow and Scotland will get behind the Games of 2012 and 2014."

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