Five promising sports stars from four different counties are being prepared to take their game to the next level by the Dale Farm Athletes' Academy.
Enniskillen rower Leonora Kennedy; cyclist Marcus Christie from Strabane; Ryan Glynn, a sailor from Bangor; Newtownabbey lad Zak Wilson, who is a top table tennis player and Olivia Mehaffey from Scarva, who excels in golf, were selected by Dale Farm as the first athletes to be brought into their Academy, which is to be run in partnership with the Mary Peters Trust, with a financial boost of £1,000 coming their way too.
A masterclass to officially launch the Academy gave the five young hopefuls advice on how to prepare physically and mentally as sports nutritionist Dr Sharon Madigan and Ireland's leading sports psychologist Dr Mark Elliott gave talks.
There was also a session on how to engage with the media, delivered by Belfast Telegraph group sports editor Jim Gracey, while Ulster and Ireland rugby star Paddy Wallace gave an inspirational session on how to compete on the international stage.
David Dobbin, Group Chief Executive of Dale Farm commented, "The bespoke masterclass not only provided these young athletes with financial support, but the educational and motivational elements will really go a long way to helping them achieve their goals."
Dame Mary Peters DBE, President of the Mary Peters Trust, added her support saying: "We're delighted to be supporting this new initiative and once again working with Dale Farm.
"The Academy gives the young athletes access to experts across the sporting discipline and will be extremely useful as they develop their sporting careers."