Two coaches from Northern Ireland will be going head to head with some of the top coaches from across the UK at the prestigious UK Coaching Awards on Tuesday 29 November.

Ards swimming coach Nelson Lindsay has been shortlisted for the High Performance Coach of the Year award, in recognition of his contribution to the outstanding achievements of local swimming star Bethany Firth, who swam to three Gold medals and a Silver at the Rio Paralympic Games in Rio. Nelson was shortlisted alongside other high profile coaches such as British Cycling’s head coach Iain Dyer and Rob Greenwood, the head coach of British Para-Swimming.

Also shortlisted for the awards is judo coach Mark Montgomery, of Hazma Judo Club in Maghaberry, who has been nominated for Community Coach of the Year. Mark has been recognised for his volunteer work, which has seen him bring judo to pupils at schools across his local area, and more than treble Hazma’s membership, with the greatest increase among females and children with special needs.

The annual awards hosted by sports coach UK are now in their 19th year and honour sports coaches and coaching organisations who have demonstrated outstanding success over the last 12 months. The finalists reflect a variety of sports and all aspects of coaching from volunteers working in local communities to full-time professional coaches working with national teams.

The two Northern Ireland finalists were shortlisted for the awards after winning equivalent prizes at the 2016 Sport Northern Ireland Coaching Awards. The finalists were shortlisted by an expert judging panel and winners will be announced at a black-tie ceremony taking place in Wembley on Tuesday evening.

Congratulating both shortlisted finalists, Sport NI Interim Chair Brian Delaney said:

“Sport Northern Ireland is delighted to once again see Northern Ireland’s coaching talent represented among the finalists for the UK Coaching Awards. From grassroots to high performance, coaching is essential for developing the enthusiasm and enjoyment driving participation and success at the highest levels. It is great to see the dedication and success of coaches like Nelson and Mark recognised, first at a regional level by the Sport NI Coaching Awards, and now at national level. Their outstanding achievements represent the quality of and passion for coaching that exists in Northern Ireland, and I wish them every success at the UK Coaching Awards”.

Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA said: “I would like to congratulate Nelson and Mark for being short-listed for a national award that recognises their contribution to sport.  Having local coaches nominated for awards such as these show the valuable contribution our sports coaches make, many of whom do so in a voluntary capacity.

“Nelson Lindsay did outstanding work in preparing Bethany Firth for Rio where she collected an incredible haul of medals, while Mark Montgomery has significantly increased participation in the sport of judo among young people in the province. I would like to thank them for what they have done in bringing credit to Northern Ireland and wish them well in Tuesday’s final.”