Nelson Lindsay, coach to history-making Paralympic gold medallist Bethany Firth, has been awarded the title of High Performance Coach of the Year by Sport Northern Ireland at its 2019 SportMaker Awards.

Nelson has been coach to 23-year-old swimmer Bethany for more than a decade and has overseen her meteoric rise to the top of the sport culminating in an incredible year of successes.

Last Year (2018), at the World Para-Swimming European Championships in Dublin, Nelson guided Bethany to 4 Gold medals (200m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 200m individual medley and mixed 4 x 100m freestyle relay), a Silver medal in 100m butterfly and a Bronze medal in 100m breast stroke.

This year (2019) at the World Para-Swimming Championships in London, the young sports woman made history when she won 2 Gold medals in 100m backstroke and mixed 4 x 100m freestyle relay. Nelson’s continued commitment and encouragement has been instrumental to Bethany’s success. Nelson has continued to adapt and increase his skills keeping up to date with world trends to ensure he is able to get the best sustainable performance from athletes competing at this level.

Sport NI’s SportMaker Awards recognise the contribution of the local sporting workforce. The High Performance Coach award recognises coaches working with athletes at the highest level of performance in sport, who have demonstrated innovative practice leading to player-centred development and national or international success.

It was presented to Nelson by Sport NI’s Performance Systems Manager Alan Curran during the War Memorial Gala at Bangor Aurora.

Paying tribute to Nelson, Stephen Cuddy, Operations Manager with Swim Ulster, added:

“When you see how Bethany and Nelson interact, you get a sense of how well he understands his swimmers and the really tight bond that they share as coach and athlete. Nelson has adjusted his coaching to constantly get the best out of Bethany and for a local athlete to be consistently winning on the World stage is just unbelievable. He has been a valued part of the coaching community within Ulster swimming for a very long time and thoroughly deserves this recognition.”

Congratulating Nelson on his award, Sport NI Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown said:

“The whole of Northern Ireland has been thrilled and inspired by athletes under Nelson’s coaching, athletes such as Bethany’s Firth and the outstanding successes over the last twelve months – she has been an incredible ambassador for Northern Ireland sport on the world stage. However, behind every great athlete lies a great coach or team of coaches whose talent, dedication and guidance lay the foundation for success, through physical development, technical expertise and mental support.

“The SportMaker Awards are all about shining a spotlight on the outstanding members of the sporting workforce we have here in Northern Ireland and the staff working in the background. The fact Nelson has been nominated for this award demonstrates how highly he is valued, and the sports incredible accomplishments are clear evidence of why Nelson has won the High Performance Coach Award. On behalf of Sport NI, I would like to congratulate Nelson on his award, and look forward to seeing him enjoy further successes in the years to come.”

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