Salto Gymnastics Coach David Carleton has been named Sport NI’s SportMaker Performance Pathway Coach of the Year.

The SportMaker Performance Pathway Coach of the Year award recognises the achievements of a coach working with emerging and young performers on a pathway to high performance.

The Head Performance Squad Coach has catapulted several gymnasts in their careers with six members representing Gymnastics Ireland and 10 athletes currently in the Northern Ireland development squad. Three of David’s gymnasts were also selected to represent Northern Ireland at the Northern European Championships.

Alongside these national and international successes with his gymnasts, David was nominated as the coach with Gymnastics Ireland to the 2022 Northern European Championships in Finland and coached the Northern Ireland team at the 2023 Northern European Championships in Sweden.

Sport NI surprised David at a recent training session with his award: “It’s brilliant, I’m over the moon. It’s definitely a big surprise and was hidden well by all those I work with. It means so much after all the hours of work that me, the girls and the team put in.”

David works through all the stages of a gymnast’s performance pathway, starting on the athlete’s journey from the age of five. The Salto Gymnastics Coach supports his gymnasts at every step, with the final aim being to see them fulfil their potential and represent their country.

David explained: “My role is the Head Coach of the Women’s Artistic Programme and we have kids from the age of five up to 18 so I’m in charge of these kids pathway in gymnastics. That ranges from local and regional competitions in Northern Ireland to International competitions.”

“I love coaching because of the kids and how much they progress. It’s about seeing how much they get out of the sport and how much they love the sport.

“Gymnastics is a sport where impossible is nothing. You can achieve what you want to achieve and it’s up to me as the coach to get the best out of the athletes and their own performance. This is why I do my job because it’s about them and helping them achieve their potential.”

SportMaker Performance Pathway Coach of the Year David Carleton (Left) celebrating with Sport NI’s Simon Toole (Centre), Amanda McMaster from Salto Gymnastics (Right) and gymnasts.

SportMaker Performance Pathway Coach of the Year David Carleton (Left) celebrating with Sport NI’s Simon Toole (Centre), Amanda McMaster from Salto Gymnastics (Right) and gymnasts.

David has also increased the standing of Salto within gymnastics by helping athletes reach the top of the sport. Pathway gymnast Emily Moorhead was selected to represent Ireland at the European Championships in Munich and at the Northern European Championships in Finland whilst Effie Montgomery won a silver medal at the 2022 British Gymnastics classic challenge National finals.

Amanda McMaster, who nominated David for the award, shared the outstanding influence David has within Salto Gymnastics: “It’s a team that creates an environment for success and with David leading that I think he is a great leader and very inspirational. His enthusiasm and willingness for the gymnast to do well has an impact on coaches coming through.

“He values the whole team that works with him and ensures he gets the best out of them as well.”

Richard Archibald, Interim CEO, Sport NI congratulated David on his award: “Our SportMaker Awards celebrate the unsung sporting heroes who help make sport happen in communities across Northern Ireland.

“David has created a positive culture at Salto Gymnastics and further afield at an international level. His passion for coaching shines through his athletes’ success and enjoyment of Gymnastics.

“Congratulations David – you are a SportMaker!”

The Sport NI SportMaker Awards give the sporting community the opportunity to showcase their achievements and give special thanks to coaches, officials and volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make sport happen. There are 12 award categories recognising achievement at all levels of sports participation, from grassroots through to high performance