Northern Ireland track and pool venues get the chance to shine
Northern Ireland will today have the chance to show off two of its most impressive and modernised sporting venues to the world.
With the athletics and swimming in the World Police and Fire Games starting this morning, the Mary Peters Track in Belfast and the Aurora Aquatic Centre in Bangor will be filled with competitors, each with their own personal ambitions.
Some will be intent on winning gold while for others simply finishing their particular race will be considered a triumph.
That's the thing about these Games... for many winning is not an issue with enjoyment the order of the day.
Another element is that young and old take part – for instance in the track and field today you could see runners over the age of 70 taking part.
The 100m is always a major attraction in any athletics event, and while there won't be anyone capable of getting close to Usain Bolt, or our own Jason Smyth for that matter, a host of sprinting heats for all ages promises plenty of entertainment and endeavour.
The Mary Peters track, named after our 1972 Olympic champion and patron of the 2013 World Police and Fire Games, looks fantastic on the back of a recent £3m refurbishment.
The new eight lane track has a 'Mondo' running surface said to be finished to the same standard as the Olympic Stadium in London.
The Aurora Aquatic Centre is also sure to be hit with competitors.
The new £38m leisure facility features Northern Ireland's first 50m international standard swimming pool.
Johnny Davis, Head of Sports Delivery for the World Police and Fire Games said: "One of the best aspects of the Games will be the venues.
"All of the places hosting various events across Northern Ireland are fantastic and in particular I think everyone will be raving about the Mary Peters Track and the facilities at the Aurora in Bangor."
The opening ceremony for the Games was last night and there was a carnival atmosphere at the King's Hall.
Over the next 10 days, competitors from 67 countries will take part in sports ranging from wrist wrestling to the "toughest competitor alive" contest.