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Young Player of the Year winner: Bethany Firth

Published 18/01/2013

Bethany Firth centre stage with Belfast Giants ice hockey coach Doug Christiansen
Bethany Firth centre stage with Belfast Giants ice hockey coach Doug Christiansen
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

Bethany Firth was born on Valentine's Day in 1996 and there was lots of love for the teenager from Seaforde when she won a gold medal in the swimming pool at the Paralympics.

Competing for Ireland in the S14 100 metres backstroke, Bethany came up with the swim of her life to finish first sparking great scenes of celebration in the Aquatic Centre.

What a performance from the 16-year-old who had only taken up the sport three years ago and to think before the race she had been suffering from a shoulder injury!

After her victory Bethany came out with a classic quote: “I didn't really like water before, but I like it now.”

Bethany's time was 1:08.93, a personal best. The hope entering the final was that she would win a bronze, but she came up with much more than that to the delight of proud parents Peter and Lindsey.

Like last year's Young Player of the Year Sycerika McMahon, Bethany is well used to early starts with her training sessions at the swimming pool in Newtownards.

All that hard work paid off with victories in April in the British Disability Championships in the S14 100m backstroke and 100m breastroke.

Committed, determined and a Paralympian champion, the young County Down woman has had a memorable year and is now the Belfast Telegraph Young Player of the Year for 2012.

Nominee - Sycerika McMahon

Sycerika enjoyed another tremendous year in her promising career, winning a silver medal in the 50 metres breaststroke event at the European Championships.

The young Portaferry starlet also took bronze in the same event at the European Short Course Championships and competed in the Olympics for the first time in the 100m breaststroke and 200m individual medley. The experience of London 2012 will hold her in good stead moving forward.

The teenager finished 2012 in style by claiming an amazing eight gold medals and records galore at the Irish Short Course Championships.

Nominee - Karola Bejenara

Karola is making quite a name for herself on the tennis scene becoming the Ulster Senior Open champion and Irish Under- 18 champion in 2012 – mighty impressive when you consider she is just 15 years old.

Originally from Romania and now very much part of the Windsor Tennis Club, Karola's dream is to make it on the professional circuit.

To that end the Orangefield High School pupil has already played in her first women's event in Spain and has set her sights on competing at Junior Wimbledon in the near future.

Nominee - Dominic Burns

Dominic is a young man with a head for heights and a marvellous ability to climb to success. A member of the Northern Ireland Youth Climbing Team, based at the Ozone Centre in Belfast, Dominic won the European Youth Climb Championship title in Switzerland in 2012.

When you consider that no Irish climber of any age has ever reached an international final and Dominic has reached five, it shows how well he is doing in his chosen sport.

As well as becoming European champion, he became the Junior British Bouldering champion in 2012 and represented Ireland in the World Youth Championships in Singapore, qualifying for the semi-finals.

Belfast Telegraph

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