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Sports Person with a disability winners: Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop

Published 18/01/2013

Robert Smyth (left), grandfather of Jason Smyth, Michael McKillop (centre) and John Spottiswoode of Disability Needs Ltd
Robert Smyth (left), grandfather of Jason Smyth, Michael McKillop (centre) and John Spottiswoode of Disability Needs Ltd
Ballyclare High School
Cheryl Mulholland and swimmer Bethany Firth
Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlon, Stephen Martin, Jenny Campbell, Jimmy Kirkwood, Rebekah Chambers and Gillian Chambers.
Mairead McCotter and Liam Watson from Loughgiel Shamrocks
Craig Peacock, Mark Brooks , Gemma Bell and Matt Towe
Laura McBurney and Michael McKillop
Brian Henning, Chairman, Sport Northern Ireland, Sycerika McMahon and Pat Jennings
Michael ONeill and Pat Jennings
Player of the Year - Ryan Farquhar. Ryan Farquhar receives his award from Wendy Houvenaghel
Gary McClintock, Wayne McBrien, Joe Robinson and William McClintock from Donnemanna Cricket Club
Michael O'Neill and Jim Shaw
Players from St Oliver Plunketts
Gerry Armstrong with his family at the awards
Gerry Armstrong with his wife Debby
Tommy Bowe, Johann Muller and Paddy McAllister
Paddy Barnes and Mari Burns
Craig Gilroy and Mark Anscombe
Darren Brown, Paddy Barnes and Tom Cunningham
Johnny Campbell, Liam Watson, Barney McAuley and Neil McGarry from Loughgiel Shamrocks
Gillian Hetherington, Jim Gracey, Ruth Gorman and Ailish Rutherford
Trevor Ringland, Jane Wells and Keith Crossan
Allan Ewart, Wendy Houvenaghel and James Tinsley
Bethany Firth
Gerry Armstrong
Janice McGeagh, Sarah Weir, Ruth Gorman and Wendy Houvenaghel
Anca Bejenaru and Claudia Ionescu
Newenham de Cogan, Hazel Busby and Leslie Busby
Brendan Gallagher, Rosaleen Gallagher, Catherine Maguire and John Maguire
John Palmer, Yvonne Craig, Margaret Tollerton and Ivan Davis from Lisburn City Council
Steve Beacom, Pat Murray and Declan Bogue
Joanne Armstrong, Gerry Armstrong Snr and Rosaleen Murray.
Mark Brown and Yvonne McKernan
Steve Beacom and Richard McCormick
James Tinsley, Pamela Ballantine, Margaret Tollerton, Ivan Davis, Yvonne Craig and Allan Ewart
Brian Henning, Chairman, Sport Northern Ireland
Local Heroes Award: Fiona Haldane. Fiona Haldane receives her award from Nick Harkness, Sport Northern Ireland
Sports Person with a Disability: Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop. Jason Smyth's grandfather, Robert Smyth, left, and Michael McKillop receives their award from John Spottiswoode, MD Disability Needs Ltd
Team of the Year: Ulster Rugby.
Team of the Year: Ulster Rugby Ulster Coach Mark Anscombe and Captain Johann Muller receives their award from Michael Gibson
Young Team of the Year: St Oliver Plunkett FC U16. Coach Stephen Lynch, Captain Josh Lynch and other team members from St Oliver Plunkett FC U16 receives their award from Alistair Gillespie, Linwoods
Hall of Fame  - Gerry Armstrong. Gerry Armstrong receives his award from Pat Jennings, Billy Hamilton and John Maguire, Group Managing Director of Belleek
Sports Star of the Year - Rory McIlroy. Eddie Harper receives the award on behalf of Rory McIlroy from Mike Gilson (Editor Belfast Telegraph) Brian Henning, Chairman of Sport NI and David Lawlor of Linwoods.
Manager/Coach of the Year: Coach P J O' Mullan from Loughgiel receives his award from Phil Simmons
George Best Breakthrough Award - Michael Conlon. Michael Conlon receives his award from Michael ONeill
Paddy McAallister, David Lawlor and Tommy Bowe
Michael Conlon, Steven Murphy from Tesco and Paddy Barnes
Neil Brittain, Pamela Ballantine, Claire McCollum and Steven Johnston
Bethany Firth and Andrew Bree
Tiffany Brien
Alastair Gillespie, Claire, David McMahon
Mark Beattie, Donna McGuinness, Ruth McQuillan and Andrew Bree from Swim Ulster
Rory Winters, Mark Gribben and James Harrison from Methody
Lauren Curley, Jessica West and Tori Wallace from Ballyclare High School.
Jackie Fullerton and Claire McCollum
Sycerika McMahon and mum Mary McMahon
lMike Gilson
Janice McGeagh, Wendy Houvenaghel and Todd Kelman

There are joint winners in this category because the brilliance of Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop simply could not be separated.

Both men entered London 2012 as Paralympic champions and they left it that way, running superbly to return home to Northern Ireland with two gold medals each.

Michael, who has a form of celebral palsy, put on an awesome show of distance running, triumphing in the 800m and 1500m in the T37 class, breaking world and Paralympic records in the process.

In Beijing four years ago, the Glengormley man won the 800m, so to double up and deliver twice in London was something special.

As well as his gold medals Michael landed another prestigious prize, being named the male athlete who best exemplified the spirit of the Paralympics at the Games – the Whang Youn Dai Achievement award.

For Jason, who has only 10 per cent vision because of an hereditary, degenerative eye condition, 2012 was another magnificent year as, not for the first time, he proved to the world that he is the Usain Bolt of the Paralympics, romping to titles in the 100m T13 class and 200m T13 class, breaking world records in both events.

He had won these events in the Paralympics in 2008, so the pressure was on but the Eglinton sprinter was more than good enough to cope.

Jason finished the year on a high by getting married in America so, all in all, 2012 will never be forgotten by our Paralympic heroes Smyth and McKillop.

Nominee - Bethany Firth

Bethany celebrated a superb gold medal with her brilliant victory in the S14 100m backstroke event at the Paralympics.

This sensational success in August had been preceded by the 16-year-old, who has a learning disability, winning twice at the British Disability Championships in the backstroke and breaststroke events.

2012 will go down as the year when Bethany came of age and led to her winning our Young Player of the Year award.

Nominee - Eilish Byrne

Armagh woman Eilish produced a super performance to collect an equestrian team bronze for Ireland in the Paralympics.

Alongside Helen Kearney, Geraldine Savage and James Dwyer, Eilish did herself proud in the dressage team to take home a much cherished medal from London.

Individually Eilish, born with spina bifida, also impressed when finishing fourth in the freestyle test grade II event on her horse Youri.

Nominee - James Brown

James Brown has a famous name and he continues to amaze with his sporting performances.

At the 2012 Paralympics, partially sighted James, riding with sighted pilot Damien Shaw, won bronze in cycling's tandem road time trial

Earlier in the Games, the Portaferry man, who has now competed in five winter and summer Paralympics across a range of sports, had finished fourth in the 4k pursuit event.

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