Sporting star Michael McKillop has joined Sport Northern Ireland Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown in paying tribute to National Lottery players for their contribution to local sport.

The pair were marking the official launch of Sport NI’s latest National Lottery-funded programmes, Sporting Winners and Sporting Clubs. These programmes will see millions invested over the next four years into governing bodies, to support performance athletes and coaches and promote the development of sports clubs and the local sporting workforce.

The launch took place at Sport NI’s Sports Institute, which provides specialist support to Northern Ireland’s elite athletes and coaches – its facility at Ulster University, Jordanstown, was developed following financial investment from the National Lottery.

Also present were Dean Adams, Development Officer at Athletics Northern Ireland, and middle-distance runner Caitlin Maguire.

Thanking National Lottery players for their support, Michael McKillop said:

“Being an athlete is about being absolutely committed to what you do, to pushing yourself to your limits, making sacrifices and striving to be the very best. I love what I do – I am proud of my accomplishments and it means so much to hear from others who have been inspired by my success. Every athlete relies on the support of the team around them, and without the right coaching, expertise and training opportunities, it is much more difficult for athletes to maximise their performance and win medals. I would like to thank National Lottery players for supporting me and other local athletes on our sporting journeys.”

Sport Northern Ireland Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown added:

“Every single day, funding from the National Lottery is helping people in Northern Ireland enjoy, engage and excel in sport. The Sporting Clubs and Sporting Winners programmes represent Sport Northern Ireland’s biggest ever investment into governing bodies. Sports clubs play a crucial role in allowing people to have a lifelong involvement in sport, and the success of athletes like Michael McKillop helps influence communities to get active, and builds Northern Ireland’s profile within the sporting world.

“On behalf of Sport NI, I would like to thank National Lottery players for supporting the work we do to promote sport at all levels. #ThanksToYou, we have been able to invest in the creation and enhancement of community sport facilities and deliver exciting new opportunities for people to get and stay involved in sport. With the launch of Sporting Clubs and Sporting Winners, we look forward to continuing to work with local governing bodies to help sports grow and develop.”

Pictured above (l-r): Middle Distance Runner Caitlin Maguire, Paralympic Champion Michael McKillop, Sport NI Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown and Athletics Northern Ireland’s Dean Adams

More information on Sporting Clubs and Sporting Winners, including decisions on investment, can be found here.