Olympic fever is burning bright for five young women in Northern Ireland after they carried the iconic Olympic Torch across the Province.

Ahead of the London 2012 Games, a squad of young Olympic Advocates, who are part of Sport Northern Ireland’s Activ8 Young Leaders programme, have now developed a range of leadership skills through sport.

In return for their hard work and dedication, five of the enthusiastic Young Leaders were given their moment to shine when they were nominated to carry the iconic Olympic flame.

The Activ8 Young Leaders are using their leadership skills to motivate friends and teachers to get fit and healthy ahead of the Games, including devising a unique ‘buddy scheme’ where less confident pupils and teachers are accompanied to the gym by the Young Leaders.

Laura Kydd (17) from Lisneal College, Derry, ran through Newtownabbey with the Olympic Torch. Laura, a dedicated community volunteer and sports woman, has completed many charity events from running miles for sport relief and taking part in sponsored walks/runs for Foyle hospice, Marie curie cancer and Children in Crossfire. She also gave up her Saturday for a full year to attend cross-community courses and summer schemes so that she could help other people in her community.

Jenny Gillespie (17) from Oakgrove Integrated, Derry, took the Torch through Derry~Londonderry. Jenny has been volunteering in sport for a number of years. As a school councillor, she has helped to organise a number of sporting events, including fun days with a variety of non-competitive events, which encourage less-confident pupils to take part in sport and see the benefits it can have.

Alex Williams from Movilla High School, Newtownards, ran through Portadown with the Olympic Torch. Alex is a keen ice-skater and practises at Dundonald three times a week. She is also very passionate about getting fellow pupils more active. In her free time, Alex has been researching which activities would encourage other pupils to take part in sport and is hoping to introduce two new sporting activities and find teachers/coaches who can deliver the classes.

Kerri Magee (18) from St Dominic’s Girls Grammar, Belfast, took the Torch through Belfast. Kerri spends most of her free time either playing or coaching netball. She has been playing the sport for nearly ten years and has been selected for many Development Squads. Kerri coaches netball twice every week, once within school by taking a class of first year pupils and also by helping to coach the U14 and U16 within her club, Westside ladies. She is also very passionate about her school’s ‘buddy scheme’, where she accompanies less-confident pupils to the gym to help them get more active.

Amy Hull (18) from Laurelhill College, Lisburn, ran through Ballymena with the Olympic Torch. Amy is a Sports Captain at Laurelhill, where she has a big role in helping to deliver after-school activities and guide junior pupils who are interested in sport. Outside school, Amy plays for Laganside Netball Club and also attends a cross-community youth club.

Chair of Sport Northern Ireland, Dominic Walsh, commented:

“Sport Northern Ireland is delighted to see these inspirational young women given such a unique opportunity. This is an excellent reward for their hard work and enthusiasm as part of Sport Northern Ireland’s Activ8 Young Leaders Programme.

“The girls are all incredibly passionate about participating in sport, and are enthusiastic ambassadors, helping others to be more active. They are truly inspirational and clearly understand the benefits that sport can bring to themselves and to the wider community.

“This is a very exciting sporting year and for the girls to have been involved in the Olympic Torch Relay is an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Kerri Magee, from St Dominic’s Girls Grammar, said:

“This was a once in a life time opportunity which will stay with me forever. Being part of Sport Northern Ireland’s Activ8 programme and being a Torchbearer meant taking part in and creating sporting history.

“The Olympics are an inspiration to people all over the world to get more active. To be involved in any way would be a great honour, but to have been involved as a Torchbearer on behalf of the Sport Northern Ireland’s Activ8 programme was a particular honour.”

As part of the Activ8 programme, primary school children throughout Northern Ireland have also completed their own ‘Road 2 London’, where pupils clocked up and recorded miles each day by being active. They followed the Torch Relay route from Land’s End all the way to the Olympic Stadium in London.

To complete the Olympic theme, the Activ8 programme also offers primary schools the opportunity to have a visit from the Activ8 Olympic Challenge Roadshow. This allows the children to sample Olympic sports as well as a high wire assault course, and is proving a great success as well as heightening excitement in the run-up to the Games.