Belfast Telegraph

Elite centres will help Ulster’s budding young stars

By Frank Brownlow

The next generation of Northern Ireland sporting stars now have an even better chance of reaching the top.

That’s because Sport NI, in partnership with Sports Institute Northern Ireland (SINI), yesterday launched three sporting centres for the next generation of elite athletes.

The centres — in Belfast, Lisburn and Cookstown — will bridge the gap between governing body programmes and the work of SINI, providing support to up and coming athletes.

These Performer Development Centres (PDCs) will provide support services to some of Northern Ireland’s aspiring sporting stars within Olympic and Commonwealth sports. Athletes will be able to access the core services of Strength and Conditioning and Physiotherapy. In addition elements of Performance Planning and Performance Lifestyle will be integrated into the programme.

The centres are hosted by Lisburn City Council at the Lagan Valley Leisureplex, Cookstown District Council at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena and St Mary’s University College, Belfast.

The purpose of the centres is to refine and improve current talent development systems and structures.

Sport NI Talent ID Systems Manager Robin Gregg said: “These centres are a very exciting development in terms of Northern Ireland sport. They are a key piece of the jigsaw.

“We are trying to create the best environment possible in which athletes can develop.”

Laura Casey, who is in the junior Irish triathlon talent squad and has been training out of the PDC in Lisburn, said: “The PDC has really helped my training.

“I am still at school and sometimes it can be hard to juggle training in my three disciplines (running, swimming and cycling) as well as school work, so the support from the Performance Lifestyle staff has been great.”

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