Sports Minister Nelson McCausland last night praised the stunning success of the Northern Ireland team in winning 10 medals at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
The medal haul included three golds and two silvers for the nine-strong boxing team — a superb achievement.
Speaking during a special Stormont reception for the team last night, the Minister said: “Well done to our Commonwealth Games team who succeeded in placing Northern Ireland 13th out of the 71 competing nations.
“Athletes helped to bring home a remarkable 10 medals for Northern Ireland, which was double our target. Indeed it was a remarkable achievement that Northern Ireland ended up being the most successful boxing nation at the Games.”
The team won medals in boxing, cycling, shooting and bowls.
The Minister added: “Northern Ireland is continuing to shine when it comes to success at sporting events and I hope the performance of the athletes will inspire people to take up sport and enjoy the benefits it has to offer.
“The dedication of the athletes and coaches to their sport has shown that anything is possible and as the Minister with responsibility for sport I will continue to do everything I can to help everyone in Northern Ireland not only to participate in sport, but to have the opportunity to compete at the highest levels.
“In less than two years the eyes of the world will be on London for the start of the 2012 Olympic Games and I have no doubt that once again we will be celebrating world success.”
Meanwhile, Ministers will decide next week whether they can justify filling a £25million “black hole” to support a London bid for the 2015 World Athletics Championships as the impact of £30% funding cuts for sport begin to sink in.
Sport will, as expected, lose around one third of its Government funding following yesterday's Comprehensive Spending Review.
Although the London Olympics has been spared the axe, the funding distributors UK Sport and Sport England have been handed cuts of 28% and 33% respectively, while UK Anti-Doping has a 19% cut to deal with.
The London Olympics have a £9.3billion budget but most of that is already spent or committed to building projects and security. UK Sport also say they will be able to keep their funding of elite Olympic athletes up until the 2012 Games with 15% cuts after then.
UK Sports minister Hugh Robertson said a decision on the 2015 athletics event would be taken next week in the light of the cuts.
Robertson said: “We will hopefully be in a position to make a decision next week. The problem is over the black hole of £25million to stage it.
“We should not do this just on some emotive reason, we need to sit down cool-headedly and work out where the World Athletics Championships sits in the ranking.
“It costs £45million to stage and through ticket revenue and other income you get £20million which leaves a £25million black hole.”
UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner has proposed the gap will be filled by them, the Government and the Greater London Authority each paying £8million.
Robertson admitted that the cuts to sport had been “a pretty unpleasant business” but that some of the pain would be offset by increases in funding via the National Lottery.