SHE was a keen triathlete with a promising future who had already been selected to represent Scotland in inter-regional competition.

But Lara Gorman’s career ground to a halt when she embarked on a relationship with her coach, John Dargie, shortly after her 16th birthday.

Within a few years, after the relationship crumbled, she was self-harming and taking anti- depressants and had quit the sport she had loved since she was 13.

Today Miss Gorman has tried to put her history of self-harm behind her but she was inspired to speak out about the impact of her teenage relationship with Mr Dargie to support the NSPCC’s call to protect vulnerable youngsters.

She said: “Even if he wasn’t a coach he still shouldn’t be doing that to a 16-year-old girl, but it’s even worse that he had that position of authority.

“I was all over the place. I just couldn’t believe he’d done that, just used me for sex. That’s basically what it was.

“He was telling me all these things about being in love with me and how he wanted a family. I thought he wanted this stuff but he was just telling me things I wanted to hear to get what he wanted.”

Mr Dargie made his first sexual advance in 2007, just three months after her 16th birthday, with a kiss at a Christmas party.

Miss Gorman said: “Trust had been built up over two or three years so I was initially shocked, but a few weeks afterwards we went for coffee or a drink of whatever and got to chatting.

“There was a wee bar we used to go to and have a few drinks and one night we had a few too many and ended up going back to his and that was basically when it started.

“I knew not to let my parents know.

“He said, ‘Keep it quiet because I could lose my job’. He said that shortly after we’d slept together for the first time.

“The kind of stuff he was saying when we went out for drinks was the kind of stuff I was interested in and I actually felt like I clicked with him, to be honest. We’d hang out and we got on really well so I thought I’d met somebody good here because we had so much in common, but there was a massive age gap.”

Miss Gorman said she felt comfortable with the coach as he always spoke to her as if she was an adult and it made her feel special.

“He’d always call me ‘Superstar’ so I felt like I was his favourite but obviously I wasn’t. It was just a sex thing for him,” she said. “He really messed with my head quite badly, to be honest.

“He was in hospital at one stage. He had told doctors he was suicidal and I used to go up on my split shifts and visit him.

“One time he was telling me he was so depressed that nothing would make him happy, then he said maybe something would and he ended up taking me behind the hospital and having sex with me there. Apparently that was the only thing that would make him happy.”

Despite the years of torment, Miss Gorman said she is finally getting on with her life. She is in a new relationship and enjoys her job. However, the thought of her former coach still working with youngsters worries her.

She said: “He coaches sessions two minutes down the road from where I stay in Milngavie and I’ve wanted to go down there so many times and tell parents what happened.

“I don’t want him to be able to coach young children so I feel I’ve got to say this now and I want to, because I couldn’t live with myself if it happened to somebody else.

“It was a big, big mistake to give up sport. It left a big hole in my life but I wanted out of it completely. I just didn’t want to do sport any more. I was totally put off. I went through quite a bad patch as well after we split up, when I was self-harming quite a lot and I was on anti-depressants for two years.

“I just didn’t want to do anything that reminded me of him or being involved in that world.”

Her parents Wendy and Cameron are also backing the NSPCC’s calls to extend the law to include sports coaches. Mr Gorman said: “There are no facts to be kidded on here about. It just shouldn’t be allowed to continue.”