Sports Awards: Hall of Fame exhibits the high standards in NI sport
The history of Northern Ireland sport is littered with fantastic moments and decorated personnel who have promoted our country with distinction, and their achievements will last for a lifetime.
We have been blessed over many years to have so many superb sports stars representing us across many different disciplines, playing at the highest level and on some of the world's biggest stages.
Those people are honoured by the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards as a new member of the Hall of Fame is inducted every year in respect of what they have achieved over a glittering career.
There are no shortage of top names on the list who have been at the pinnacle of sport for many years, and another star name will join them at the awards ceremony on January 29.
This award is sponsored by Bre-Ton Financial Services, with the newest inductee selected by the judging panel that includes an inductee, Dame Mary Peters, who became the second member of the Hall of Fame in 1997.
The names that adorn the Hall of Fame will be recognisable to al and they're headlined by a large footballing contingent including Pat Jennings, George Best, Billy Bingham, Bertie Peacock and Harry Gregg.
Later inclusions feature the likes of Gerry Armstrong, and now coaches David Healy of Linfield and Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill, who have taken their international success into their managerial careers.
Ulster and Ireland rugby stars Jack Kyle, Willie John McBride and Mike Gibson are all inductees, while Down legends Sean O'Neill and Paddy Doherty, and Tyrone head coach Mickey Harte make up the Gaelic Games contingent.
Golfer Norman Drew, former boxer now promoter Barry McGuigan, all-rounder Maeve Kyle and horse racer AP McCoy are all there, too.
Last year's inductee was former snooker player Dennis Taylor, who was made the latest member after a stunning career that saw him win the 1985 World Championship, as well as the World Grand Prix and Masters tournaments.
If that list isn't enough to convince you that the Hall of Fame isn't star studded enough, it will only get better over the next few years, starting with the latest inductee, who will have had to have a similarly glittering career to those whose company they will soon be keeping.
It's also a reflection of the high standards required to join the Hall of Fame, and this year's winner will have to live up to those heights.
Sponsors Bre-Ton Financial Services are based in Dungannon and help sort out mortgages, insurance and pension funds along with other cost-saving services.
"Bre-Ton Financial Services are extremely proud to be the sponsor for the Hall of Fame award, at the prestigious Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards," commented Breeda Toner, Financial Advisor at Bre-Ton.
"We understand how important sport is in the local community and throughout Northern Ireland and the need to celebrate and highlight the achievements of sporting legends that have become significant figures in the history of the sport.
"Just like dealing with your finances, which can be a complex matter as there is a lot to consider, and the decisions you make - or don't make - will ultimately define your future, the nominees for the Hall of Fame have helped define and shape the future for sport throughout Northern Ireland with their passion, commitment, longevity and excellence."
Gym of the future is making an impression
The Belfast Telegraph’s George Best Breakthrough award at Monday’s Waterfront Hall ceremony is supported by Better Gym Belfast, which last month made a groundbreaking move of its own.
The city’s first ever digital gym didn’t open its doors to its members —rather, it scanned their face using a camera to allow them access via a turnstile after four seconds. No need for identity cards or cash payments in this gym of the future.
This is only one of many hi-tech features at Better Gym Belfast, the newest addition to 13 other leisure facilities operated by social enterprise outfit GLL.
And all 650 guests at Monday’s Belfast Telegraph awards will be offered the opportunity to sample the experience for themselves with GLL providing complimentary passes for a gym trial.
General manager of the £1.8million facility, Deaglan O’Hagan, explained: “When we were thinking about opening a new facility in the city centre, we were conscious of just how tech-savvy Belfast’s young population is.
“Millennials are spending more and more time online, using smart devices to shape their work day and their free time. Then there’s Generation Z, those born after 1996, who are unable to remember a world without the internet or social media.
“That shaped how we designed the gym and what type of equipment and activities we offer. It will constantly change and develop to reflect what this section of our society wants.”
“Feedback from our members is that it’s not like anything they’ve ever experienced. They don’t even notice that they are burning up to 1000 calories in a 45 minute workout.”
Better Gym Belfast is located on Church Lane in Belfast city centre.