The Sports Minister has wished good luck to the 20 athletes from the north of Ireland taking part in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The Minister said: “After years of preparation, the Olympic Games are finally here. Being part of the greatest sporting event on earth is a once in a life-time opportunity for many of us to witness and participate in especially when it is all happening so close to home.”
Praising the local athletes who are part of Team Ireland and Team GB, the Minister said: “We have a total of 20 local athletes competing for either the Ireland team or British team over the next 16 days and seven paralympians getting ready for the Parlaympic Games later in August. This is the largest contingent we have ever fielded. I want to praise all the athletes from the island of Ireland for their excellence and endeavour.
“I am encouraged that this number includes 11 females which is our highest number of women yet. I hope this will be an inspiration to more of our women and girls to take up sport.”
Highlighting the number of first time competitors, Carál Ní Chuilín said: “This is the first time for a local person to compete in Olympic Table Tennis and Canoeing and we have our first local female competitor in Judo as well as our first male competitor in the Triathlon.
“These athletes have given their all to get to this level and we will be cheering them on as they take on the world’s best in table tennis, judo, hockey, rowing, cycling, canoeing, sailing, triathlon, swimming, boxing and eventing. I wish them all the very best of luck for each of their individual competitions – all of which we can watch on the Big Screens in Belfast and Derry.”
The 20 local athletes competing in the 2012 Olympic Games in London are:
Na Liu: Table Tennis
Iain Lewers: Hockey
Alan Campbell: Rowing
Richard Chambers: Rowing
Peter Chambers: Rowing
Wendy Houvenaghel: Cycling –Track
Michael Conlon: Boxing
Paddy Barnes: Boxing
Hannah Craig: Kayak – Ki Racing Event (Canoeing)
David McCann: Cycling – Road Race & Time Trial
Martyn Irvine: Cycling – Track: Omnium
Joesph Murphy: Equestrian Eventing
Lisa Kearney: Judo
James Espey: Laser Sailing
Ryan Seaton: Sailing 49er Class
Matt McGovern: Sailing 49er Class
Melanie Nocher : Swimming 200m Backstroke
Sycerika McMahon: Swimming 100m Breaststroke
Aileen Morrison: Triathlon
Gavin Noble: Triathlon
(Emma Higgins is one of four reserves selected for Team GB Women’s Football )
More information about the coverage of the games on the Big Screens in Belfast and Derry is available from the Derry City Council website and the Belfast City Council website.