Belfast Telegraph

Miss Northern Ireland Tiffany Brien to set sail for charity before Miss World contest

By Maureen Coleman

She may be stunning and slim with a glowing complexion but Miss Northern Ireland Tiffany Brien is not your typical beauty queen.

When she's not winning crowns or walking on catwalks, the Holywood girl, who grew up by the sea, is a talented sailor who was selected as a member of the Irish Olympic Sailing Team.

But it hasn't all been plain sailing for the 21-year-old. Last year, the University of Ulster marketing student made the toughest decision of her life to withdraw from competitive racing, thus relinquishing her chance to represent Ireland at the Olympic Games.

But Tiffany, who has been sailing competitively since her early teens and is the current Irish number one in the Women's Laser Radial class, says she has no regrets and is looking forward to her reign as Miss Northern Ireland.

“I've been sailing for my country since the age of 14 and was brought up through the ranks of the Olympic Development Squad, with the aim of representing Ireland at the Olympics,” she said.

“But then, last February, I decided to take a break from racing. To be honest, the training was very intense and pressurised and it just all got a bit too much for me. It was a really hard decision, especially with all the training I'd been doing and working towards the Olympics, but I felt it was something I had to do for me.

“I've no regrets. There will be plenty of other opportunities and I'm not giving up sailing at all. I'm certainly not ruling out the chance of trying for the Olympics again.”

Tiffany was introduced to sailing by her father, BTWCairns director Simon Brien.

“I live near Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club and spent my summer around boats,” she said. “Dad bought me a little boat and then I got into it seriously. Sailing is my passion, it's a huge part of my life.

“When I took time out last year I entered Miss Northern Ireland as a distraction. To come back and win this year is amazing. I gave it 100% and I'm thrilled. I can't wait to see what this coming year holds for me and am so excited about representing Northern Ireland at Miss World.”

But before Tiffany heads off to China in August — where she will compete against good friend Rebecca Maguire, the Belfast girl who was recently crowned Miss Ireland — she will take part in a charity challenge with adventurer and athlete Mark Pollock. Tiffany and Mark, who lost his sight at the age of 22 and was then paralysed in a fall in 2010, will sail in a Skud boat from Belfast Lough to Scotland to raise funds for the Mark Pollock Trust next month.

Tiffany said: “Mark is a good friend and inspiration and I'm delighted to be helping him.”

Her father, Simon, said he was proud of all her achievements and never had any reservations about her entering the world of beauty pageantry.

“Tiffany is competitive and everything she does, she puts her heart and soul into,” he said. “When she decided to enter Miss Northern Ireland this year she prepared herself mentally and physically and gave it her best shot. She loves fashion and modelling but it will also be great experience for her in her future marketing career.”

Support Mark Pollock Trust, at www.irishseachallenge.co.uk

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