Belfast Telegraph

Bursaries help power young trio in their pursuit of future glories

Power boost: Power NI’s Gemma Louise Bond with bursary recipients (l-r) Lauren Roy, Callum Nash and Afton Fitzhenry
Power boost: Power NI’s Gemma Louise Bond with bursary recipients (l-r) Lauren Roy, Callum Nash and Afton Fitzhenry

By Robert Jones

Three young athletes have had their European, Commonwealth and Olympic ambitions boosted by support from Power NI, in partnership with the Mary Peters Trust.

Runner Lauren Roy, from Ballymena, Londonderry judo competitor Callum Nash and canoeist Afton Fitzhenry, from Lisburn, have each been selected to receive a £2000 Power NI bursary to help them expand and improve their respective training and development programmes.

All three have also been appointed as Power NI community sporting ambassadors with the aim of encouraging other young athletes to push forward and achieve their own sporting goals.

They join three existing ambassadors, triathlete Erin McConnell, wheelchair basketball player Conn Nagle and trampolinist Ryan Devine, who received their bursaries in April this year.

Champion sprinter and relay runner Lauren will use her bursary to cover travel and training costs during her gap year to concentrate on athletics.

In 2020, she will be travelling to Portugal, Florida and Tenerife to compete in European and international championships.

The 18-year-old said: "I'm proud of what I have already achieved, especially my ranking as number one in Ireland, however I feel as though I'm only getting started.

"My goals next year are to compete in the European Senior Championships and World Senior Indoor Championships, but the long-term plan is the 2022 Commonwealth Games and ultimately the 2024 Olympics."

Ulster University computing technologies student Callum (20) is using his funding to help him train towards the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

This year, Callum has competed in the Junior European Cup in Bosnia and will be heading to the Continental Open in Senegal. Callum is currently ranked number one in Ireland.

He is also part of the Irish team set to compete in the 2022 Commonwealth Games, 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games and the Senior World Games.

Callum said: "This funding will help me attend the Oceania Cup in Australia, where myself and my fellow competitors are striving to qualify for the Olympics next year.

"I will proudly carry the Power NI and Mary Peters Trust names with me as I travel as an ambassador."

Canoeist Afton is a full-time athlete ranked number one in her field in Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the top-10 in Europe. Afton is competing to gain a place in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The 24-year-old said: "It is amazing that a local company wants to help support young people like me and my fellow ambassadors. The support of the Mary Peters Trust means I know I am following in the footsteps of other great local talent to hopefully shine a light on the wonderful sporting talent coming from Northern Ireland."

Stephen McCully, managing director of Power NI, said: "Sport plays such an important role in any society whether at provincial or Olympic champion level. Power NI's goal is to put people at the heart at what we do, which is why we want to play our part in helping these three young people realise their sporting dreams as well as supporting Lady Mary and the tremendous work by her Trust."

Lady Mary added: "The achievements of these three young people are nothing short of outstanding. They are inspiring role models for their peers and fellow athletes, and we are proud to support them to achieve their goals.

"Funding support to help talented and hard-working athletes reach their potential has never been more important and I'm immensely grateful to Power NI for their financial contributions."

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