Northern Ireland has secured its first London Olympics pre-qualifying event, the 2011 CPISRA Boccia World Cup in August which will be staged at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown.
The sport, which is essentially a form of bowls, is expected to be one of the highlights of the Paralympics next year and Great Britain already has a rich history in Boccia with Beijing gold medallists Zoe Robinson and Dan Bentley at yesterday's official announcement at Stormont.
The World Cup, which will be held between August 18-27, was claimed by Northern Ireland despite opposition in the bidding process from Argentina and the USA.
Speaking at Stormont, Corneel van der Hieden of Cerebral Palsy International Sport and Recreation Association said: “I felt we were on a mission when we granted Northern Ireland the chance to host the World Cup, hoping it would become the street soccer for disabled people in Northern Ireland. “I was very impressed with what the university had to offer us. The World Cup is the final qualifying event for London 2012.”
Sports Minister Nelson McCausland believes this can be the first of other qualifying events and Sport NI Chief Executive Eamonn McCartan said he still hoped teams would be based here head of the Games.
McCausland said: “This summer we hope to announce a sailing event for Olympic teams and a further programme of Paralympic events.”BY DAVID KELLY