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Rising quintet of Ulster athletes given financial boost

By Ali Gordon

Rising young sports stars from across Northern Ireland have been awarded valuable support to help them fulfil their potential.

Five athletes will receive a £1,000 bursary, along with access to a unique professional development masterclass, thanks to Dale Farm Athletes' Academy in partnership with the Mary Peters Trust.

Fourteen-year-old Lisburn gymnast Casey Jo Bell, 13-year-old golfer Annabel Wilson from Aghalee, 18-year-old tennis player Peter Bothwell from Hillsborough, Belfast's 17-year-old hurdler Megan Marrs and 17-year-old hockey player Ian Sloan from Stewartstown have all been chosen for this prestigious award after a number of successful years in their respective sports.

Wilson played on the Irish team in the World Under-18 Championships in Canada last September and is the current Irish, Ulster and Leinster Girls' Open Champion. Bothwell is already Northern Ireland's most successful tennis player to date after becoming the first player to achieve an ATP World Ranking and Marrs, who is ranked fifth in Europe in the 110m hurdles, broke five Northern Ireland records in 2014.

Ireland hockey international Sloan, meanwhile, and current Irish gymnastics champion Bell are targeting the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

The selected athletes will visit local primary schools as part of the Dale Farm School Sports Day Programme to inspire upcoming young athletes.

Commercial Director of Branded Products at Dale Farm, Jason Hempton, said: "We're certain that Casey Jo, Annabel, Peter, Ian and Megan will become fantastic sporting ambassadors for Northern Ireland sports in the very near future."

Dame Mary Peters added: "The budget for sport in Northern Ireland has already been decreased. The importance of support from Dale Farm is therefore even more necessary than ever.

"Dale Farm has been a partner of the Mary Peters Trust for years. The athletes will continue to develop with this funding. We all look forward to hearing about their progress and success."

Belfast Telegraph

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