Women have come to the fore in the Belfast Sports Awards, with a record number nominated across all categories – a fitting tribute in the year that marks the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote.
Deputy Lord Mayor Comments on Sports Awards
Belfast Deputy Lord Mayor, Sonia Copeland, said: “I am delighted to learn that so many women are being recognised for their participation in and contribution to local sports.
“As a politician it is heartening to see that recognition for women and the many roles they undertake and it is inspiring for younger women who have hopes and dreams to see others who have achieved or are helping others to achieve those dreams.
“An active life contributes not just to physical but to mental health and at a time when we are experiencing an upsurge in young people in particular coming forward with mental health difficulties it is essential we do all we can to encourage their involvement in sport,” she added.
More than 200 nominations were received for the Belfast Sports Awards and Hall of Fame, and the winners were announced during a dinner hosted by the Deputy Lord Mayor at City Hall.
Among the women winning awards are athletics coach Heather Ardis, named Senior Coach of the Year who has trained para athlete, Jack Agnew. He is taking part in the Commonwealth Games in Australia after becoming the first Wheelchair athlete to be appointed to the team since 2002.
Female Coach of the Year
Women are playing their part in football too, with Gail Redmond from Glentoran Belfast United named as Female Coach of the Year, and Donna Maxwell, Chairperson of Belfast Swifts – the first all-girls club in Belfast – winning the Sport NI Lottery Funded Pathways to Club Award.
Jacqueline (Jackie) McKernan, a Belfast born discus thrower who has represented Ireland and NI at three Olympics and five Commonwealth Games, was also one of three people inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Her personal best throw of 60.72 metres in 1993 remains the Northern Irish record, and places her fifth on the British all-time list. Jackie has recently retired from Athletics NI, but her legacy lives on.
Details of all award winners are available at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/sportsawards
Team GB Announce First Ever Skateboarders to Compete at the Olympic Games
The British Olympic Association (BOA) has today announced the two skateboarders set to compete for Team GB at the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Sky Brown and Bombette Martin will both compete for Team GB in the skateboard park discipline in Tokyo, after qualifying in third and eighteenth position respectively during the World Skate qualification season.
Brown will become Team GB’s youngest ever summer Olympian at the age of 13 years and 11 days, surpassing Margery Hinton who was 13 years and 44 days when she competed at Amsterdam 1928 in swimming. In her last international event, Brown produced her best ever competition run, to win a silver medal at the Dew Tour, USA and took third place in the World Championships in Rio de Janeiro the season before, cementing her ranking as third best in the world.
Martin, 14, has had a succession of good competition results in the last two years. In April she won the Skateboard GB x Habito National Championships and more recently finished in the top 20 at the Dew Tour, USA. Martin is the daughter of John ‘Bomber’ Martin, an ex-amateur boxer from Birmingham.
Skateboarding will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo and sees male and female competitors compete in both street and park disciplines.
Team GB Chef de Mission for the Tokyo Olympic Games, Mark England, said: “It is incredibly exciting to announce Sky and Bombette to Team GB for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Not only will they both make history as Team GB’s first ever skateboarders, but Sky will also make history of her own as she becomes our youngest ever summer Olympian.
“Competing at the heart of the Games at the Ariake Urban Sports Park, I am sure the skateboarding park competition will capture the imagination of the Team GB fans, just like freestyle snow sports did when they were introduced to the Olympic Programme. I couldn’t think of two better athletes to act as ambassadors for Team GB in this exciting new Olympic sport and we wish Sky and Bombette the very best of luck in their final preparations.”
James Hope-Gill, CEO at Skateboard GB said: “We are so excited to see two GB skateboarders qualify for the Games. Both girls have such amazing talent and are an inspiration to other skateboarders out there, showing people that anything is possible, no matter your age.
“Over the last two years we have worked with Sky and Bombette to help them with their preparations and today’s announcement shows how their hard work has paid-off. We wish them the best of luck”.
Mayor Welcomes New Stand at Greenisland Football Club
Mayor, Cllr Peter Johnston along with Deputy Mayor, Cllr Andrew Wilson and Cllr Bobby Hadden visited Greenisland Football Club to see the commencement of the works to provide a new 128-seater spectator stand and turnstiles, which will bring the grounds up to meet Intermediate League status requirements.
Mid and East Antrim Council in partnership with Greenisland Football Club have been working together to deliver this new stand. Through working in partnership, the club have been able to secure £45,000 of external funding and along with a contribution from the club Council are contributing £35,000 to deliver the £90,000 spectator stand.
Mayor, Cllr Peter Johnston said: Once again, I would like to pay tribute to Greenisland Football Club and in particular the time and commitment that the club members put into progressing this project.
“As a Council, we have been delighted to help fund a portion of this work and to enable the vision and objectives of the club to be met.
“Greenisland Football Club are a fantastic club and it is no surprise that they have recently been recognised from UEFA as one of the top grass roots football clubs in Europe.”
Mervyn Montgomery, Greenisland Football Club said: “We are indebted to the on-going support of our External Funders and Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, to enable us to build upon the existing facilities at Greenisland and to develop further our Community Sports Programs and Longer Terms Plans for the Club.”
This new stand will further enhance the major investment Mid and East Antrim Council made in 2018 through the delivery of a new 3G facility on the back of £100,000 of funding the club secured from SportNI.
The Club and Council had also secured external funding to upgrade the grass pitches, which are owned by the Council, in 2018 at a cost of £50,000.
Mid and East Antrim Council are committed to working with all groups within the borough to ensure that our ratepayers and residents have top class facilities which will improve their quality of life and their health and well-being.