Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Northern Ireland going for gold in Glasgow

Our athletes ready for Commonwealth Games

Northern Ireland's Commonwealth Games team
Northern Ireland's Commonwealth Games team
Runner Katie Kirk

Northern Ireland looks set to have its best Commonwealth Games yet as our biggest team ever prepares to compete in Glasgow over the coming days.

As the finishing touches are being put to tomorrow night's glittering opening ceremony, a total of 117 athletes from Northern Ireland are in Scotland, gearing up to compete across 14 sports in the 2014 Games.

Big-name stars such as boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon have been joined by up-and-coming Commonwealth debutantes like swimmer Rachel Bethel and wrestler Hugh McCloskey. They will each be chasing glory in an exciting 11 days of competition.

Northern Ireland will be trying to beat their impressive haul of 10 medals in Delhi in 2010. Commonwealth Games legend David Calvert will be hoping to add to his collection of eight Commonwealth medals, whilst Barnes is trying to repeat his gold medal success in 2010.

Runner Katie Kirk will face tough opposition in the 800m but the 20-year-old is realistic about her chances. "The women's 800m this year will have one of the strongest fields at the Games. If I make the finals, I'll be absolutely delighted," the daughter of two-time Commonwealth athlete Mark Kirk said.

Female boxing will make its first appearance at the Games in Glasgow, with Northern Ireland sending two hopefuls – Michaela Walsh and Alanna Audley-Murphy.

"Once you get in that ring anything can happen but we've worked so hard that the odds are for us," said Audley-Murphy.

Former cycling world champion Wendy Houvenaghel will be challenging for a medal at the Games after a disappointing Olympics in London in which she was left out of Team GB's team pursuit squad, despite an excellent season.

"The 2014 Commonwealth Games is something that has been on my mind for a long time," said the 40-year-old.

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