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Golden girl Kelly Gallagher a peak performer after stunning year


Sochi joy to watch: Bangor's Kelly Gallagher with her Winter Olympics skiing gold medal

Sochi joy to watch: Bangor's Kelly Gallagher with her Winter Olympics skiing gold medal

Sochi joy to watch: Bangor's Kelly Gallagher with her Winter Olympics skiing gold medal

Between the Winter Paralympics in Sochi and the Para-Sport at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, a host of gifted sports people with disabilities from Northern Ireland gloriously showcased their talents.

Last year's winner of the prestigious Belfast Telegraph Sports Person with a Disability award was alpine skier Kelly Gallagher. The partially-sighted Bangor girl claimed the honour after performing well in a number of top events and securing medals at the IPC World Championships in 2013.

In 2014, however, Gallagher achieved even more.

The 29-year-old not only won Great Britain's first ever Winter Paralympic gold medal but also the team's first skiing gold medal at any Winter Olympics after sealing victory in the Super-G event with her guide in Sochi, Charlotte Evans.

A latecomer to the sport, the former Glenlola Collegiate student, who only took up skiing aged 17 while on a family holiday to Andorra, also claimed gold in the World Cup in Canada. And there may be even more glory to come as Kelly's heroics have landed her one of the 10 coveted spots in the race for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards for 2014.

For the Telegraph awards, our 2012 winners are also in the mix once again. Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop shared the honours after the pair clinched two Paralympic gold medals at London 2012.

This year, Smyth and McKillop have again enjoyed great seasons. Smyth, who has restricted vision, became a double European champion at the IPC European Championships in Swansea in August after storming to glory in the 100m and 200m T12 events. Smyth also qualified for the Commonwealth Games in the able-bodied competition where he finished fifth in his heat.

Middle distance runner McKillop also secured European honours his year, winning the 800m T37.

McKillop, who has a mild form of cerebral palsy, is the current 800m and 1500m world record holder and battled back from a trapped nerve in his foot to storm to European triumph.

Seaforde teenager Bethany Firth, who has learning difficulties, had a brilliant season in the pool.

The 18-year-old Paralympic gold medallist won an incredible four gold medals, broke six world records and hit six personal bests at the British International Para-swimming meeting in Glasgow in April.

Firth took the top spot in the 200m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 100m breaststroke and 200m Individual Medley events. At the Commonwealth Games, Firth competed in six individual events and two relays for Northern Ireland.

These are just some contenders we have suggested but you may have some ideas of your own. If so, please send your nominations via our website ahead of the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards which will be head at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast on January 26, 2015.


Belfast Telegraph