Belfast Telegraph

Five rising stars get Dale Farm boost

By Jim Gracey

Five of Ulster's most promising young athletes have received a helping hand from Dale Farm. The five have been selected to join the 2015/16 Dale Farm Athletes Academy, an elite programme devoted to helping rising stars reach their goals.

In partnership with Mary Peters Trust, each athlete receives one-on-one mentoring from experts in sports nutrition, psychology and media at the Dale Farm Athletes Academy Masterclass.

Dale Farm also grants a £1,000 bursary to each winner to help with costs such as travel to competitions, kit and equipment.

Following a highly competitive selection process, the 2015/16 Dale Farm Athletes are Brendan Irvine (boxing), Sam Bothwell (tennis), Conor Ferguson (swimming), Ben Fisher (athletics) and Liam Glynn (sailing).

Belfast boxer Brendan Irvine has multiple international honours under his belt, including a gold medal at the 2015 Gee Bee Elite Multi-Nations and a silver medal at the 2015 European Games. He recently won the Irish Elite Flyweight Championship and dreams of making it to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

At just 18 years old, tennis player Sam Bothwell has already achieved a senior men's doubles world ranking. Originally from Hillsborough, Sam recently joined the professional tour and is based at Soto Tennis Academy in Spain.

Newtownabbey swimmer Conor Ferguson won gold at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games for the U18 100m backstroke and silver in both the 50m and 200m backstroke. Only 15 years old, Conor's goal is to make it to the 2020 Tokyo Games.

The multi-talented Ben Fisher won two bronze medals at the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2015. The 17-year-old from Belfast competes in both the long jump and the 110m hurdles and is expected to compete at the World U20 Trials in June and the British Senior Championships in July.

Sailor Liam Glynn was Northern Ireland's first Topper World Champion and was crowned NI Youth Champion in 2015. He was recently selected to represent Ireland at next year's ISAF Youth World Championships in South Africa.

Caroline Martin, Head of Marketing at Dale Farm, said: "Every year we receive more and more applications from promising young athletes competing in a range of sports - it is amazing for us to see the world class sporting talent representing Northern Ireland. We are very proud of the five athletes selected for this year's award.

"You will see from their accomplishments and their ambitions for the future that they are already great ambassadors and we wish them the best in their upcoming competitions.

"As Northern Ireland's leading dairy company, we are committed to supporting grassroots athletics and helping young people enjoy an active lifestyle."

Gillian Hetherington, Executive Manager, Mary Peters Trust, added: "The five athletes are truly exceptional. They have devoted so much time, money and energy to achieving their goals and we know each of them is very grateful for Dale Farm's help, both through financial support and mentoring."

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