Mary Peters’ £78k for young talent
Forty years on from her Olympic gold medal success, great Dame Mary Peters is still striving to encourage and assist young sportsmen and women here to follow in her famous steps.
Her Mary Peters Trust annual report reveals £78,000 raised in the past year to help 120 aspiring young talents with training and travel costs.
Several millions have now been handed over since Dame Mary set up her volunteer-run Trust to give something back to Northern Ireland sport in the warm afterglow of her 1972 Pentathlon gold at Munich.
She has succeeded in large measure — the beneficaries of this year's cash awards need only look at the list of previous recipients given a financial leg-up over the years to realise the level of potential the Trust recognises.
Those include golf Major winners Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke in their formative years plus a host of athletes, swimmers, cyclists and ball players.
This year's likely to succeed list ranges from young Paralympians to possible future Olympic stars.
Dame Mary related in her annual report: "To name but a few of this year's successes... Niall McVeigh, who is currently training in Australia, became World Dwarf Badminton in Guatemala; swimming sensation Sycerika McMahon broke Ulster and Irish records galore and picked up medal after medal at the European junior championships, Commonweath Youth Games and Irish Championships; athlete Sally Brown won bronze at her World Championships in New Zealand and at the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, she went on better, winning silver.
"At the World Junior Championships in Dubai, Sally won silver and gold and was awarded the prestigious Mary Peters Trust/Sportsaid One to Watch in 2012 award at the annual Sportsball in London."
Trust funds are raised from publicly-supported events such as golf days, fashion shows, concerts and quizzes.
Added Dame Mary: "It is thanks to the generosity of the Northern Ireland public and our sponsors that our work is able to successfully continue and long may that be the case."
A new Trust chairperson has also been installed, long-serving Ulster hockey leading light Joan McCloy passing the baton to Glengormley-based sports injury specialist and physiotherapist Elish Rutherford, herself a sporting high achiever as a former hockey international with Pegasus and Ireland under her maiden name of Macken, and last year running the New York Marathon with husband Allan Rutherford, the former Irish cricket international.