Andy Murray, Laura Muir & Josh Taylor – Scotland’s ones to watch in 2019

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Andy Murray

It seems obvious but, more than ever, the one to watch in Scottish tennis is Murray, with 2019 guaranteed to be one of the most interesting years of his stellar career… assuming he’s fit enough to play a decent number of tournaments. Before and after the Australian Open in Melbourne, he has already committed to playing in Brisbane, Montpellier and Dubai, but several key questions will hover in the New Year air as he begins this latest phase of his comeback from hip surgery.

Will his body now allow him to play uninhibited? If so, how close to his best can he get? Could the former world number one win a tournament? Is another major possible? Or, at the other end of the scale, might Murray be forced to retire in 2019 if his body breaks down again or if recapturing his old level prove beyond him?

BBC Scotland’s Kheredine Idessane

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Ryan Christie

Celtic midfielder Christie is, of course, already a known quantity but judging by the manner in which he flourished during the final months of 2018, this year could be massive for him. If the 23-year-old continues on an upward trajectory, he can become a focal point for both club and country. His intelligence, willingness to learn and undoubted talent could provide Celtic and Scotland with a real superstar.

Erin Cuthbert

Erin Cuthbert

This could be the year Cuthbert goes from being an emerging star within women’s football to a national hero and a household name. Followers of the women’s game are already well-acquainted with this skilful, hard-working 20-year-old from her performances at the top level with Chelsea and the integral role she played in getting Scotland to the World Cup. But it is on that biggest of all football stages she could really make her name by helping Scotland to punch above their weight and reach the knock-out stage.

BBC Scotland’s Alasdair Lamont

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Laura Muir

Muir says her main target in 2018 was to qualify as a veterinary surgeon after seven years at Glasgow University. But her athletics achievements surpassed even her own high expectations. As well as collecting her degree in June, she finished 2018 as the number one ranked female 1500m runner in the world, won gold at the European Championships, and was crowned Diamond League champion.

Achieving so much in such demanding circumstances can only bode well for what the 25-year-old can achieve in 2019. Already she is focused on success at the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow in March. And then in autumn, in the heat of Doha, Muir will attempt to claim World Championships gold.

Andrew Butchart

Mo Farah and Andrew Butchart

The mantra of the injured athlete is “back stronger” and Butchart is a firm believer. The 27-year-old is making huge strides in his comeback after foot surgery, with testing in the Californian sunshine going, he says, “better than ever”. The first signs of success in 2019 may come as soon as March when he hopes to contest the European Indoors. He believes a medal should be “pretty comfortable” and admits he is going for the gold.

With injury has come a re-education in running mechanics and Butchart believes he is now a better athlete. Expectations are high that the man who ran shoulder to shoulder with Mo Farah in the Rio Olympics is ready to step up to the next level.

BBC Scotland’s Rhona McLeod

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Darcy Graham

The little Edinburgh winger has made a big impression since stepping up to the pro ranks from Hawick. Fast, elusive and packing a bigger punch in the tackle than a man his size ought to, Graham made his international debut off the bench against Wales in November, earning what is surely the first of many caps.

George Horne

George Horne

Last season was a breakthrough one for the younger of Glasgow Warriors’ Horne brothers. When the scrum-half is on the field, Warriors rarely lack for tempo. His all-action displays have made him arguably Dave Rennie’s first-choice number nine and he will push hard for a seat on the plane to Japan for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

BBC Scotland’s Andy Burke

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Josh Taylor

The sacrifice of spending chunks of the last few years living away from his family in London is paying off for the 27-year-old, who has gone from strength to strength in 2018. Impressive victories over former world champion Viktor Postol and American Ryan Martin were notable but 2019 could be the year in which he realises his lifelong dream. If he wins his Super Series semi-final against Ivan Baranchyk, he will be the IBF world champion.

A second world title could also be on the cards, too. If he beats Baranchk, the WBA title may also be on the line in the Super Series final. Taylor is undefeated so far, and although the challenges get bigger and bigger, potentially so too his achievements.

BBC Scotland’s Jane Lewis

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Kirstie Gordon

Kirstie Gordon

Gordon admits that choosing to play in the English Kia Super League was a scary decision; joining Loughborough Lightning would mean giving up her Scottish residency and being unable to represent Scotland at the upcoming World Twenty20. It was a difficult decision, but one that paid off.

The 21-year-old left-arm spinner made her England debut at the start of the tournament, taking 3-16 against Bangladesh, and finished it as the side’s leading wicket-taker, despite struggling with back pain. She has shown that big occasions don’t faze her and, with England aiming to win back the Women’s Ashes over the summer, she could play a crucial role in their limited-overs prospects.

BBC Sport’s Amy Lofthouse

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Duncan Scott

Scott enjoyed quite a 2018, the 21-year-old winning six medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. That form continued in the summer, with four medals – and three goals – at the European Championships in Glasgow. And after recovering from an ankle injury, he ended the year well too, setting a new National Record in the 100m Individual medley at the Scottish short course championships in December.

So what will 2019 bring? More success you’d think. The next major event will be the British Championships in April in Glasgow, which should lead to a place on the GB team for July’s summer’s World Championships in South Korea. There will be no doubt in Scott’s mind that he belongs there.

Hannah Miley

Hannah Miley

This will be an interesting and perhaps a testing year for the 29-year-old. Silver in the 400m Individual Medley at the Commonwealths, followed by a bronze at the European Championships, were 2018 highlights, but she lost her funding and needed ankle surgery.

The rehabilitation will be hard going for Miley. She had the operation in August, and admits it come be up to a year before she can hope to be back in elite competition. That’s likely to rule out this year’s World Championships and questions will probably be asked about her future. But the resilient and hard working Miley will be determined to give a fourth Olympics a shot.

BBC Scotland’s Jane Lewis

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Toni Shaw

As the youngest member of Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Para-swimmer Shaw has already enjoyed life on the big stage. The Aberdeen teenager, who is missing part of her right arm, was just 14 when she competed in Australia and went on to win two golds in a six-medal haul at the Para-swimming European Championships in Dublin in August.

In 2019, the 15-year-old will be hoping to make an impact at this summer’s World Championships in Malaysia, primarily in the 400m freestyle in her S9 category, where she was quickest in the world in 2018.

BBC Sport’s Elizabeth Hudson

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