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Awards celebrate true sports heroes

By Frank Brownlow

Published 28/11/2015

Golden moment: (from left) Sport NI-funded top athlete Jason Smyth shows off the IPC World Championship 100m gold medal he won
last month in Doha, with Sport NI Interim chief executive Arthur Scott and Belfast Telegraph Sports Editor Steven Beacom
Golden moment: (from left) Sport NI-funded top athlete Jason Smyth shows off the IPC World Championship 100m gold medal he won last month in Doha, with Sport NI Interim chief executive Arthur Scott and Belfast Telegraph Sports Editor Steven Beacom

The Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards identify outstanding achievement and recognise individuals and teams making a unique contribution to Ulster Sport.

The winners of the 2015 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards - supported by main sponsor Linwoods - will be announced at a glittering bash at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast, on January 25.

The Sports Person of the Year with a Disability Award has traditionally been won by individuals whose sporting feats have been truly remarkable.

Kelly Gallagher was last year's Belfast Telegraph Sports Person of the Year with a Disability after making history at the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.

Kelly won Britain's first ever Winter Paralympic gold at the Games, finishing first in the visually impaired Super-G competition.

The award completed a stunning double for Kelly, who also triumphed in 2013.

Other previous winners of the coveted award include Janet Gray, Sally Brown and Niall McVeigh.

Paralympic athletes Michael McKillop and Jason Smyth were joint winners of the Belfast Telegraph Sports Person of the Year with a Disability Award back in 2012.

The pair are two of the finest Paralympians on the planet, with both striking gold at last month's IPC World Championships in Doha.

McKillop (25), from Newtownabbey, bagged a middle distance double in the 800m and 1500m.

Smyth, from Eglinton, took gold in the 100m, retaining his title in a time of 10.62 seconds, making him the fastest Paralympian on earth.

The 28-year-old opted out of defending his 200m crown to fly home and be with his wife Elise for the birth of their first child.

Smyth and McKillop have been dominant in their disciplines for almost a decade.

McKillop, who has cerebral palsy, has won seven World and Paralympic golds, including 800m and 1500m doubles at London 2012 and at last month's World Championships in Doha.

He has set world records at both distances.

Smyth, who is visually impaired, achieved the classic sprint double at the last two Paralympics as well as at the 2013 World Championships and holds the world record at both distances.

He also competes in able bodied competition - featuring at the European Championships and Commonwealth Games - and is the Northern Ireland 100m record holder with a time of 10.22 seconds.

The two friends are tipped for glory at the Rio Paralympics next summer.

Belfast Telegraph Sports Editor Steven Beacom has followed the careers of Kelly, Jason and Michael very closely.

"Kelly, Jason and Michael have been fantastic ambassadors for Ulster sport who will no doubt go on to achieve much, much more in the years ahead," he said.

"The Belfast Telegraph Sports Person of the Year with a Disability accolade is always very keenly contested and helps make our awards night so special.

"Our judges are going to have a very difficult job on their hands coming up with a winner to be announced at our big night in the Ramada Hotel in January."

We're sure you'll have your own contenders for the coveted Belfast Telegraph Sports Person of the Year with a Disability Award - and we'd love to hear about them.

To vote visit www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sportsawards2015

The WJ Paddy Patterson Services to Sport Award is one of the most popular accolades and was won last year by Doreen Miskelly, following on from successes by Jack Monaghan and Ken Nixon.

Belfast Telegraph

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