Make It Happen Awards: Mary Peters helping dreams come true
Two of Northern Ireland's most promising young sports competitors have been given a significant boost in pursuit of their dreams.
Sixteen year old schoolgirl cyclist Shenna McKiverigan, recently recruited by world renowned Team Sky, and Commonwealth Games table tennis ace Ashley Robinson, now living and competing full time in Sweden, are the first recipients of Make It Happen awards, worth £2000, from the Mary Peters Trust.
Backed by Bluefin Sport, a new to Northern Ireland sports insurance firm, the funding will assist the pair with training and development costs in a new dimension to the cash awards, amounting to several million pounds, handed down by the Trust in the four decades since its foundation by Dame Mary after her 1972 Pentathlon Olympic gold at Munich.
From a top class field of candidates, both were judged by the awards panel to meet the funding criteria of showing the most potential for progress, given access to specialist skills and knowledge to quite literally Make It happen.
Shenna, from Gilford in Co Down, is the only cyclist from Northern Ireland to have been selected to compete for Team Sky in the Winter Revolution Track Series across the United Kingdom.
Anthony Mitchell, Cycling Ulster's Track Commission Officer, said: "This series is a brilliant opportunity to showcase Shenna's talents alongside the best young women in the UK.
"Shenna has proved herself to be the top youth track cyclist in Ireland and to be drafted into Team Sky is an added bonus as there is no telling where this may lead."
Ashley (21), from Clogher in Tyrone, is now based in Eslov in Sweden where he trains and competes full-time.
"Since moving abroad, I have climbed 700 places in the world rankings in two years and have achieved good results at UK, European and world level," said Ashley who now trains with some of the world's best players, including former China national team member Xu Hui and a number of Sweden and Denmark's elite table tennis stars.
"As well as world class training partners, I also avail of world class coaches. The current coaches are Peter Anderson and Peter Sartz, both of whom are world renowned table tennis coaches, and I also avail of world class strength and conditioning trainers who have a vast experience of training specific to table tennis.
"The down side is that accommodation, training and living costs in Sweden are extremely high so this award will go a long way towards helping achieve my goals of medalling at the Commonwealth Games in Australia 2018."
Dame Mary added: "Thanks to the support from Bluefin Sport, we will now be able to provide additional cash awards to assist the best of the best of our emerging young talent to hopefully Make It Happen for them as the Trust has done for so many before them down the years. It's the vision I had when the Trust was set up and we continue to raise the bar in terms of our ideals."
Bluefin Sport is an independent and award winning specialist division at Bluefin Insurance Services offering solutions and risk management advice to the world of sport. With a dedicated team situated in Belfast they are ideally placed to deliver local expertise across Northern Ireland and provide all the services required for professional and amateur sports clubs, leagues, associations and governing bodies. With additional offices located in Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, New Malden and London, they service clients across the length and breadth of the UK, including some of the best known names in sport.