Friday, 21 January 2011

Annual Sporting Reception at Stormont

Last night I hosted the second annual Sporting Reception at Stormont to recognise local sporting success.

Due to competitive and training commitments many of our top sportsmen and women are unable to attend the annual reception but it was an excellent opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Northern Ireland sportspeople in 2010, especially the success of many of our younger folk.

The range of sports was impressive and included football, hockey, volleyball, golf, bowls, cycling, Gaelic football and boxing, as well as wrestling, javelin, tug of war and surf kayaking.

Linfield U13 Boys won the Tesco UK Cup final and Newry City U14 Girls won their section of the same competition.  There was a very large entry from across the United Kingdom and yet two Northern Ireland teams came home as winners.  Meanwhile three young sisters from Newtownabbey won gold medals at the British Junior Wrestling Championships.

These are just two examples of the strength of sport in Northern Ireland and it was a privilege to commend the hard work and dedication of the young folk and the older folk who were at the reception.  It was also good to talk to many of the athletes and hear about their sports and their experiences.

A number of parents said that they really appreciated the reception and the recognition of the success of their children.  I introduced the annual reception last year and hope that it will be continued in the future.

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