Team Northern Ireland put in a winning performance at this year’s UK School Games, returning home after winning 12 gold medals, 9 silver medals and 11 bronze medals.
The 2017 UK School Games, which took place in Loughborough, was recorded as the largest multisport event taking place in Europe this year, with around 1,600 school-age athletes and 700 coaches taking part. The event was organized by the Youth Sport Trust and supported by the National Lottery.
Over 150 elite school-age athletes from Northern Ireland competed with teams from England, Scotland and Wales in eleven Olympic and Paralympic sports including Fencing, Rugby Sevens, Hockey, Athletics, Cycling, Judo, Wheelchair Tennis, Swimming, Table Tennis, Volleyball and Wheelchair Basketball.
Among Team NI’s medal success stories were swimmers Barry McClements, who took a trio of golds in the Boys 400m Freestyle, 100m Freestyle and 100m Backstroke, and Nicole Turner, who won in the Girls 100m Breaststroke and 100m Freestyle.
There were also gold medals for the Girls Rugby Sevens side, judokas Joshua Green (Under 70kg Boys) and Callum Nash (Under 66kg Boys), and Wheelchair Tennis player Ross Gourley (in the Boys Singles).
Team NI’s gold medal successes were rounded off by cyclist Clodagh Gallagher (in the Girls Short Sprints) and with a pair of medals on the athletics track with triumph for Anna McCauley (High Jump Girls) and Eve Dann Walsh (100m Ambulant Girls).
Congratulating the Team on their performance, Sport NI Chairman George Lucas commented:
“Once again, Northern Ireland’s new generation of sporting talent has done all of us very proud at the UK School Games. The Games provide our elite school-age athletes with a unique opportunity to experience the unique atmosphere and competitive experience of a multisport event, and Sport Northern Ireland is delighted to be supporting Team NI’s athlete and coaches to participate. The UK School Games are an important stepping stone for our young sporting talent, and I wish all of our athletes continued success on their sporting journeys.”
Prior to the games, some NI athletes and coaches came together as a Team for the first time at an orientation event organized by Northern Ireland in partnership with Ulster University School of Sport. Attendees took part in a series of team building events with their fellow athletes, and also undertook an anti-doping workshop delivered by Sport NI’s ‘Pure Winner’ education officers. The packed day also included an athlete Q&A event with local elite athletes including para-badminton champion Niall McVeigh, Northern Ireland netballer Noleen Lennon and wheelchair basketball player James McSorley discussing their careers and sporting experiences.