Lisburn Racquets Club is to host the Yonex Irish International Badminton Championship in December. Two hundred players from over 30 countries around the world will compete at the four day event to qualify for the London 2012 Games next August.
This is the second pre-qualifying event which is to take place here. The Boccia World Cup will be held at the University of Ulster from the 18 - 27 of August this year.
Speaking at Lisburn Racquets Club, Carál Ní Chuilín said: “Lisburn is getting ready to welcome badminton teams from Europe, America and Africa in December.
“Significant work has been undertaken to bring this important pre-qualifying tournament to Lisburn. I am confident that other Olympic approved facilities here in the North of Ireland will have the honour of hosting similar pre-qualifying and training events over the coming months.”
The Sports Minister also outlined the aims of the North’s Olympic Strategy: “I am pleased that our partners in sport, business, arts, education and tourism as well as central and local government are working hard to ensure that as part of the lasting legacy of having the world’s largest sporting event so close to these shores we increase participation in sports for all, especially young people. We also want to encourage community engagement and social inclusion and to secure economic benefits.”
Dominic Walsh Chair of Sport Northern Ireland said: “Sport Northern Ireland has worked extensively in conjunction with many governing bodies of sport, local Councils and sporting venues during the last two years to encourage key stakeholders to attract and secure athletes and teams who will train or qualify for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London next year.
“Despite many challenges and hurdles these collective efforts are starting to bear fruit and the considerable groundwork has paved the way for pre-Olympic qualifying events such as this International Badminton Championship.”
Fearghal Kearney from Badminton Ireland outlined the importance of the Championship being held in Lisburn. He said: “Badminton Ireland is delighted that the Yonex Irish International Championships for 2011 will be held at the Lisburn Racquets Club.
“This year's event is particularly important for two reasons. Firstly, the tournament itself, as a World Ranking International Challenge event, is part of the schedule of qualifying competitions for the London 2012 Olympics and players from around the globe will be travelling to try and accumulate world ranking points for qualification. Secondly, the Ulster Branch of Badminton Ireland is celebrating its centenary year and it is fitting that this prestigious event should be held in the North to mark the occasion.
“Badminton Ireland would like to thank Sport Northern Ireland for their support in hosting this year's tournament and look forward to a fantastic week of badminton in the city of Lisburn in December."
Video - Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin and Ulster Badminton's Tom Causer say hosting an Olympic Games qualifier will be a boost for the sport