NIO launches Centenary Athletics Programme
Children from across Northern Ireland were given a unique opportunity to compete alongside Olympic and World Championship athletes under a new sporting initiative announced by the NIO as part of its Centenary year programme.
The once-in-a-lifetime experience was the culmination of a three week Children’s Summer Athletics Programme, which launched on the 29 July 2021 and saw 250 children from across Northern Ireland receive coaching delivered by athletic clubs in Derry/Londonderry, Belfast, Armagh and Omagh, supported by Athletics NI.
As part of the NIO initiative, children competed in a series of activities and their progress was monitored throughout the programme, culminating in regional finals which saw the top three girls and top three boys in each region selected.
These children then took part in a National Final at the Belfast International Track and Field Meet, which was held at the Mary Peters Track on 11 September 2021. There, they were able to meet Northern Ireland sporting stars of the past and present.
The 2021 Belfast International Track and Field Event was also supported by the NIO as part of its Centenary programme, and showcased Northern Ireland’s world class athletic facilities and athletics successes. The high-profile event saw close to 200 elite athletes from across the UK, Ireland, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and elsewhere converging on Northern Ireland.
Following hot on the heels of the Tokyo Olympics, the event attracted returning Olympic and Paralympic competitors. It culminated in a prize giving ceremony involving Northern Ireland sporting icon and Olympic gold medal winner Lady Mary Peters, followed by a VIP evening reception celebrating NI’s finest athletes and athletic successes.