Sport NI, the leading body for the development of sport across Northern Ireland is celebrating its golden anniversary, having been established 50 years ago, on 31st December 1973.
The organisation is commemorating the milestone by highlighting the impact sport makes on people, communities, and the ability to create world class sports people.
The public is encouraged to be part of the celebration and choose their top sporting moments created by sports people from Northern Ireland since 1973, building on trailblazers like Lady Mary Peters who won Gold at the 1972 Olympics the year earlier and the phenomenal George Best who retired from Football on 1 January 1974!
The body has compiled a list of top sporting moments from local heroes and leaders across a wide range of sports and the public can vote online until 16th February for their favourite sporting moment.
The top sporting moments have been selected by Sport NI staff, with many household names making the top ten. From Dennis Taylor to AP McCoy, Kelly Gallagher to Michael McKillop sporting achievements and celebrations have been captured featuring sporting winners and leaders across a wide range of sporting disciplines.
The top ten sporting moments shortlisted are:
- Joey Dunlop – 1st TT win – 1977
- Northern Ireland men’s football beating Spain in 1982 World Cup
- Dennis Taylor winning World Snooker Championship in 1985
- Wayne McCullough winning silver in Barcelona in 1992
- Ulster Rugby winning Heineken Cup Final 1999
- Tyrone GAA’s 3 in a decade in the 2000’s
- Beijing Paralympics 2008 – Michael McKillop and Jason Smyth winning their first gold medals
- AP McCoy – Grand National Win in 2010
- Kelly Gallagher winning gold at Sochi in 2014
- NI women’s football qualification to the Euros in 2022
Since its creation as the Sports Council for Northern Ireland, Sport NI has worked with sports governing bodies, clubs, members, coaches and officials to develop sport from grass roots to elite level. Currently, through its £8.1m National Lottery funded Sports System Investment programme Sport NI is supporting over 400,000 people involved in sport here, developing the next generation of participants, leaders and champions.
Richard Archibald, Interim CEO, Sport NI, said, “Sport NI has always focused on developing and supporting excellence across sport in Northern Ireland. In the last 50 years we have all celebrated some of the most magical and memorable sporting experiences.
Woven through these and many other notable moments is the passion, commitment, focus and drive of our sports people, spending hours, days, weeks and years practising and finessing their skills to compete and win, often on a global stage.
These ten moments are just the tip of the sporting iceberg in terms of talent and achievement, which we want the public to celebrate with us.”
As well as celebrating the historic moments Sport NI is also using this milestone to highlight how sport is changing and how it needs to change in the years to come.
Richard continued, “Sport is constantly evolving and changing, and in curating these moments it is clear that whilst there has been a lot of progress and investment in the last 50 years, there is much more to be done in terms of diversity and inclusion. As we mark this milestone, Sport NI wants to empower more women to achieve and have their voices heard at all levels of sport.
“We have some outstanding female competitors paving the way for the next generation. In the past year we celebrated athlete Ciara Mageean setting a new Irish record in the 1500-metre final on the track, Clare Taggart being crowned Boccia World Champion and talented teenager Molly McKenna winning gold at the Trampolining World Championships.
“As we look to diversity and inclusion, our work with gender, ethnically diverse communities and LGBTQ+ is, and will remain, a key focus for Sport NI in developing and delivering our plan, The Power of Sport. We want to pursue this conversation and better understand the challenges faced, as we encourage and shape a more welcoming inclusive sports culture in Northern Ireland for the next 50 years.”
Colum Boyle, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities, said: “Across the last 50 years we have celebrated many remarkable sporting achievements.
“We have watched from the edge of our seats, the sidelines or stands, memorable successes by local sports people at youth and grassroots levels through to those competing and excelling on the world stage.
“Increasing participation in sport and physical activity is a key component of the Department’s Active Living Strategy and our aim is to see more people, be more active, more of the time.
“In pursuing that goal and through the ongoing work of Sport NI and other partners, I am confident we will see future generations of world class athletes and talented sports people emerge here to create many more iconic moments in the years ahead.”
To vote for your top NI sporting moments of last 50 years visit www.sportni.net/50th-anniversary-top-ten. Cast your vote by 16 February 2024.
Caption: Going for Gold! – Celebrating the top moments in 50 years of sport, Michael McKillop, four-time Paralympic Gold medallist, John Kinnear, Team Manager Ulster Rugby 1999, and Marissa Callaghan, Captain NI Women’s Football Team 2022, join Sport NI Interim CEO, Richard Archibald and George Lucas, Chair of Sport NI at the House of Sport, Belfast.