Belfast Telegraph

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Netball’s Caroline leads Northern Ireland athletes at Gold Coast games

By Rebecca Black

Team Northern Ireland proudly joined the parade of competing nations at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games yesterday.

Led by netball captain Caroline O'Hanlon, the 90-strong team arrived at the Brisbane bash as they hope to make this their most successful games yet.

The opening ceremony featured a performance from Australian singer and former Neighbours star Delta Goodrem, as well as nods to the country's indigenous culture and the Gold Coast's famous surfing lifestyle.

The games baton had travelled around 70 nations and territories over 388 days from Buckingham Palace. Prince Charles delivered the message from the Queen, which was contained inside the baton, describing how the ancient stories of Australia's indigenous people "remind us that, even though we may be half a world away, we are all connected".

The message added: "Over the years, these friendly games have shown the potential of the Commonwealth to connect people of different backgrounds and nationalities.

"As you come together at the start of these games, I continue to be inspired by the courage, enthusiasm and dedication of all those taking part."

Northern Ireland has performed well at recent games mostly thanks to boxers such as Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan. Northern Ireland won two gold, two silver and five bronze medals in Glasgow in 2014.

Barnes and Conlan have since turned professional, but there are a number of remaining stars to look out for including boxers Michaela Walsh, Steven Donnelly and Brendan Irvine.

Others medal hopes include veteran marksman David Calvert; gymnasts Rhys McClenaghan and Ewan McAteer; swimmer Conor Ferguson; cyclists Mark Downey and Lydia Boylan; long jumper Adam McMullen; high jumper Sommer Lecky; hammer thrower Dempsey McGuigan; runner Ciara Mageean, and the bowls and table tennis teams.

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