Commonwealth joy for local athletes
A LISBURN brother and sister are among a number of local athletes who will be bidding for glory after they were selected to represent Northern Ireland at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
Luke and Bethany Carson have made it a glorious double for the local family, with 20-year-old Luke selected to represent his country in the Men's Artistic Gymnastics and 18-year-old Bethany chosen for Swimming.
The pair will pit their wits against the best talents in the Commonwealth at the Games, which will take place in Delhi, India from October 3-1 4.
The NI Commonwealth Games Council officially announced the 81 athletes that will travel to Delhi, leaving Northern Ireland on September 27, at a ceremony in the Waterfront Hall last Friday, where 71 teams will compete over 17 sports and 4 Para Sports.
A delighted Luke, who currently trains at Huntingdon Olympic Gym Club (Cambs UK) with the GB Olympic Coach Paul Hall, said: "I am so happy to have gained selection to represent my country, it feels like the reward from all the hours in the gym, all the early nights and the scary cost of living away from home – they've all been worth it. Even better, we have made it a family double, our family is over the moon. We both owe huge thanks to SCNI (Sports Council Northern Ireland) for supporting us on our journey, and also to The Mary Peter's Trust who helped us at the very be beginning."
Bethany added: "I am so excited about the Games in Delhi – following a couple of years of injury and recovery, I am very grateful for the support of SCNI, Swim Ulster and Swim Ireland, Lisburn Performance Development Centre and especially my Home Coach Andrew Reid for helping me. I have worked very hard and I hope to make them all proud of my achievements in 2010 and hope to make finals in India."
She added: "I really want to go all the way, together with my Brother Luke who will be representing Northern Ireland in Men's Artistic Gymnastics; we want to make it a year to remember for our Country, our Team, our family and friends and for ourselves – of course!"
There was selection joy for a number of local athletes, with City of Lisburn Athletics Club members Kelly McNeice and Ciara Mageean selected for the games, while four members of Alpha Badminton Club; Sinead Chambers (18); Tony Stephenson (19); Caroline Black (16) and Matt Gleave (23) also included in the NI team.
The four have been members of the Club since childhood, having grown up within the club environment and they have represented the club in tournaments throughout Europe from an early age.
This young team, all of whom are Irish Internationals, are all at the top of their game with each player ranked number 1 in each of their specialised disciplines. However, the forthcoming Commonwealth Games will be a step-up for the team as their first team match will be within a group of four that will include top seeds such as Malaysia, England, India or Singapore.
The team will travel to Copenhagen in Denmark for an intensive week's training from September 20-24 which will enable them to get sparring against top European players and ensure they are 100% match sharp before heading to the Commonwealth Games.
The final preparations will finish with all the team competing in the Autumn Open in Dublin on September 25 and 26.