Ballyclare athlete is closer to Commonwealth dream with support from Mary Peters

A promising young Ballyclare athlete has received a series of boosts as he strives to be selected for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham 2022.

Oliver Gunning with Lady Mary Peters and Mark Burns, Bluewater Financial Planning, which has provided £2,000 towards the athlete's aim of competing at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham 2022. Picture by Stephen Hamilton

Oliver Gunning, who is a Para Triathlete in the PTVI (B3) class, has competed in three World Triathlon international competitions, most recently in Valencia, Alhandra and Abu Dhabi.  

At only 17, he was competing in an elite field with many Paralympian’s representing Ireland.  He gained vital points to help him progress towards Commonwealth Games selection.

Oliver, a Ballyclare High School pupil, competes alongside a guide in triathlon, he is tethered in the swim and run, and uses a tandem bike for the sprint triathlon distance. 
He trains hard across all of his disciplines, swim, bike and run, and is a member of Larne Swimming Club and Ballymena and Antrim Athletics Club, whilst juggling sixth form and A-Levels at school.  

He was fortunate to be selected by Triathlon Ireland several years ago, onto their high performance team, and with their guidance and team of specialists around him he has risen to the challenge of competing at such a high level at such a young age.  

He was the youngest para triathlete competing in Abu Dhabi at the World Championship final.

“The last few weeks have been amazing, I am so grateful to my guides Tom Flaherty and Stephan Teeling-Lynch and Triathlon Ireland for assisting me in these races.  

“The races have given me a great drive to train hard to get selected, a taste for what hard work can achieve.  

“I am looking forward to a few weeks off, catch up with schoolwork, then onto the base training over the winter with a view to another triathlon early in 2022,” commented Oliver.

His ambitions received a further fillip with Bluewater Financial Planning, in partnership with the Mary Peters Trust, awarding him £2,000. Sophie Earley (15) is a table tennis player from Carryduff received similar support.

Oliver said: “The Mary Peters Trust and Bluewater’s support has come at the right time to help me move forward with the dream of getting to Birmingham Commonwealth Games next year, I am very grateful.”

Lady Mary Peters said: “It is a constant financial struggle for athletes and their families and I am grateful to Bluewater Financial Planning for supporting Sophie and Oliver two exceptional talents

“It has been a struggle for most of us throughout lockdown and it is a tribute to these athletes that they have stayed on course with their training adapting to difficult circumstance. 

“I will hopefully be able to attend the Games in Birmingham and I look forward to watching them compete, it is my greatest joy to see athletes progress and develop that’s what my Trust is there for and we need sponsors like Bluewater to keep that going.”

Mark Burns, from Bluewater Financial Planning, said: “I wanted to support Lady Mary Peters and her Trust as I am inspired by the athletes and their talent, commitment, discipline and dedication. These are all skills required to help them grow and develop, sport has such a positive impact on us all.”

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Click here to read: Medal aspirations for Larne’s elite swimmers at Birmingham Games

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