Belfast Telegraph

World beater Niall McVeigh honoured

By Jim Gracey

The 2013 achievements of Badminton Para World champion Niall McVeigh, from Poyntzpass, Co Armagh, have been recognised by one of the most prestigious awards in disability sport.

Niall is this year's winner of the Mary Peters Trust Leonard Cheshire Award.

The 23-year-old has competed all over the world, scoring many notable wins including retaining his Para World title in Dortmund, Germany last year.

The Leonard Cheshire Disability Charity sponsors this award through the Mary Peters Trust, annually honouring an outstanding athlete with a disability. The award is named after legendary World War Two RAF pilot, Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, a Victoria Cross winner, who emerged from the conflict to devote his life to care, founding a hospice which grew into the disability charity which bears his name.

Reigning world champion Niall also triumphed at Para 4 Nations events in Ireland and Wales and took the Men's Singles title at the World Dwarf Games in the USA.

The award also recognises his dedication and commitment to his sport. Niall has been playing badminton for the past 14 years and trains five days a week, the majority in Lisburn Rackets Club.

"Ideally, I'd like to win more European and World Championships and hope to compete in the 2020 Paralympics Games if badminton is included," responded Niall whose coaches are Andy Steward, Leslie Dewart and dad Eugene McVeigh. Niall also plays at Loughbrickland Badminton Club where he started and Alpha Badminton Club in Lisburn.

Eilish Rutherford, Chair of the Mary Peters Trust, said: "It is a privilege to have the support of Leonard Cheshire in making this award. In Northern Ireland at present we have an exceptionally high standard of disability athletes, making selection in this category extremely difficult.

"However, Niall was the standout choice. He is such a talented athlete, blessed with a great personality and fighting spirit which is obviously a good combination and has led to his many competitive wins. We look forward to many more future successes."

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