Thrilled Jack on right track to challenge on big stage
Belfast wheelchair racer Jack Agnew is this year's recipient of the Dale Farm Future Star Award, and the £5,000 bursary that goes with it. The 17-year-old has been recognised for his talent and commitment by a Mary Peters Trust selection committee as he aims to qualify for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia and the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
The promising young star is the highest ranked T54 wheelchair racer (1,500m) at Under-18 level in the UK, and is ranked fifth in the Senior ranks as well.
Agnew is part of the British Athletics Talent Development Squad, and is due to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the inaugural Para Athletics Junior World Championships in Switzerland next month.
The multi-talented teenager, who took up wheelchair sports in 2006, was also involved internationally with the GB&NI wheelchair basketball team until 2013. However, he then switched his focus solely to racing.
From there he flourished, becoming the England Athletics Under-15 champion within six months of taking up the sport, before adding three gold medals at the Brazilian Junior Para Championships in 2015.
Agnew's latest success came at the London Mini Marathon Wheelchair Race earlier this year when he defended the title he won for the first time in 2016.
As part of the award, the Belfast man will also receive new kit from Dale Farm, along with specialist training to help him achieve his goals, including a one-on-one media training session with the Belfast Telegraph Sports Editor Jim Gracey.
"Securing the 2017 Dale Farm Future Star Award is an absolutely fantastic feeling. I'm very proud to have been selected," Agnew commented.
"The award will help me compete at major international championships over the next year, including the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
"My aim is to keep improving my endurance and fine tuning my nutrition to make me the best I can be on my journey towards Tokyo 2020.
"I'm grateful to Dale Farm and the Mary Peters Trust for their support in helping me achieve this."
Munich 1972 Pentathlon Olympic gold medal winner, Dame Mary said: "Jack's career is set to go from strength to strength and this award will help him make his international dreams a reality. Financial support for a young athlete like Jack is crucial and we are grateful to Dale Farm for continuing to support our young sportsmen adn women so generously.
"I am extremely proud of Jack and wish him every success for the next chapter of his career."
The Dale Farm Future Star Award is one of the largest individual sports awards in Northern Ireland and is awarded to an athlete over the age of 16 who could compete internationally in the future.