Belfast Telegraph

Teen assault victim is Red Bull Manny Mania skateboard star

By Amanda Poole

A teenager from Belfast has emerged as one of the world's finest skateboarders just days after he was the victim of an assault.

Paddy Maguire (19), from Ardoyne, proved a big hit at the Red Bull Manny Mania global skateboarding event at the Manhattan Bridge Skatepark in New York.

Paddy made the quarter finals and finished eighth overall in the prestigious contest.

"It was an amazing experience," he said. "It was tough to adjust to the hot weather, but I got to meet loads of cool people from around the world."

Paddy's achievement is even more impressive given that he was assaulted in a random attack days before he left Belfast for the US.

"It was pretty bad. Two men attacked me and hit me on the head with a skateboard I had just won the week before," he said.

"I had to get eight staples in my head and I think it did affect my performance.

"Well, that's my excuse," the talented teenager joked.

Back in April, Paddy emerged victorious at Ireland's Red Bull Manny Mania National Qualifier when he competed at the Tivoli Complex in Dublin alongside 100 freestyle skaters.

A skateboard has four wheels, but when you balance on two, it's called manual, which is referred to by urban sports fans as "manny".

A purpose-built skate park was set up for the event in the Tivoli, a location famed for street skating and graffiti art.

Paddy wowed the judges to clinch the ticket to New York from Gavin Coughland and Anto Thornhill.

Event judge and Red Bull skate athlete Keith Walsh was full of praise for the Belfast teenager.

He said: "Paddy's such a naturally gifted manny skater. He just keeps pulling out new tricks."

Paddy said he was delighted to be have done so well on the world stage and that he is looking forward to making the move from amateur to professional in the years to come.

He uses the Bridges Urban Sports Park in Belfast every day and can't thank Red Bull enough for promoting skateboarding here.

"I was inspired by skateboarding on MTV and have loved it since I was about 12," the teenager said.

"I love the freedom it brings. A skateboard is like my blank page and I can get really creative with it. It's art to me. I love meeting all the interesting people involved in it. There's no sectarianism that other activities and sport like football brings. I love it."

Bridges Urban Skatepark is under the M3 flyover, at the junction of Little Patrick Street and Corporation Street, near Custom House Square in Belfast. It has facilities for skateboarding, in-line skating, BMX-ing and Parkour. It has a capsule bowl and street complex, with handrails, hips and grind boxes. Free entry.

For details contact Sports Development team, Belfast City Council, tel: 9032 0202 or belfastcity.gov.uk/urbansports

Manny Mania 2011

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