Burnet pushing for 'climate comeback' as well as medals at Commonwealth Games

·3-min read
Fiona Burnet will compete as part of Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Game (AAPIMAGE via Reuters Connect)

By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat

Shandon’s Fiona Burnet is heading to Birmingham 2022 with more than one goal in mind.

The Commonwealth Games debutant is hoping to be part of the first medal-winning Team Scotland squad since hockey was added to the event in 1998.

And as part of the eco-athletes’ group, Burnet forms part of a global network of athletes pushing for a “climate comeback” and hopes she can enlist more stars to join the fight this summer.

With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Burnet hopes sharing her story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.

Burnet is one of over 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science, and medical support.

“Within hockey we’re in the early stages of setting up a group called hockey for climate,” Burnet explained.

“It’s a group of international players and we’re trying to gather more at the Commonwealth Games to raise awareness and to pull together plans as to how we can push for change within our National Governing Bodies, and then push towards the International Hockey Federation (FIH) as well, to get them to implement change. There’s a massive gap there.

“I think it’s something that a lot of athletes are interested in and feel passionate about but quite often they don’t feel comfortable talking about it so we’re hoping to spark a conversation at the games, get more athletes involved and take it from there.”

This summer, Team Scotland, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will compromise of over 250 athletes, and having secured her place on the squad, Burnet is looking for medal success.

The 25-year-old, who's sister Anna won an Olympic silver medal in sailing at Tokyo 2022, says her passion for the environment stems from her upbringing on the west coast of Scotland.

Her understanding of the changing world around her then developed further while studying at the University of Bath before truly eye-opening experiences while working for a small NGO in New Zealand, Blake Trust, and then at COP 26.

“I realised there is this massive space where athletes can be doing so much more in the environmental space,” she said.

“I didn’t put the two together until I started speaking to some of the athletes at sport at COP, then thought actually this is something I would really love to be involved in and feel like I can give back a bit and hopefully make a bit of a difference.”

And the 73-cap Scotland star says that there is some overlap between her two passions, which has come in handy when transitioning between the two.

“The main thing is the teamwork aspect from hockey because with climate change it’s a global issue, it’s going to affect everyone,” she added.

“We can see from the heatwaves right now that it’s already a massive issue so it’s not like anyone can sit back and watch it.

“Using the teamwork experience we all have from hockey to bring us together will hopefully make a massive impact.”

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