Sportspeople from across Northern Ireland share their hopes for 2024
With the Summer Olympic Games and other tournaments on the horizon, sportspeople from across the province have shared their goals for the new year with Northern Ireland World.
By Russell Keers
Published 22nd Dec 2023, 14:42 GMT
Updated 22nd Dec 2023, 15:50 GMT
We spoke to athletes from a range of disciplines, including swimmers, track and field, boxers, bowls players and ice hockey players.
Take a look through our picture gallery to see what they are hoping to achieve across the next 12 months.
Good luck to everyone who responded. Hopefully they can meet their targets.
1. Lady Mary Peters
1972 Olympic pentathlon champion, Lady Mary Peters, offered encouragement to the local athletes who will be competing for Team GB and Team Ireland at the Olympic Games in Paris next summer. Lady Peters said: “Paris 2024 is fast approaching and there are an amazing number of athletes heading to France from Northern Ireland. I can’t wait to see them in action. Northern Ireland has developed a strong group of alumni in both Olympic and Paralympic sports and this year will see that list substantially added to. People don’t realise the huge amount of training and preparation that is required for an Olympics, and I know our local athletes will give it everything in Paris. Even though not everyone will medal, it is an honour and an achievement to be selected and our athletes will have the experience of a lifetime. At the Mary Peters Trust we support athletes from a wide range of sports who are competing for both Team Ireland and Team GB, and we wish each and every one of them the very best of luck.” Photo: Mary Peters Trust
2. Belfast Giants’ Kell Beattie
Ice hockey player Kell Beattie explains how got involved in the sport and how he hopes to break into the Belfast Giants side. He explained: "I don’t come from an ice hockey background like a lot of the guys I’ve played with, so getting started was a bit of a weird one. My dad played football in Northern Ireland and then went across for trials with a few teams in England, and ended up signing a three-year deal in Australia, so I initially came from a footballing background. Although I started playing football, my love for ice hockey started with a family day out. We went ice skating at Dundonald Ice Bowl, and when we were getting ready to leave, we saw the kids coming in with their hockey kit, so we stood at the plexiglass and watched them train. I told my mum that I wanted to try that, and she agreed. I got signed-up at the reception and was told I could come and learn to play over the summer, so I went along and learnt all the basics. After learning how to play, I got called up to the Junior Giants U10s, and I’ve just worked my way up. I’ve come through the Junior Giants setup during my whole junior career. After Covid hit, I got a message from Solway Sharks asking me if I wanted to come over and play. I spoke to Adam [Keefe] and Rob Stewart over the summer and they managed to sort out a two-way deal, so I was able to train with the Giants throughout the week – getting experience at an Elite League level – and then travel to Scotland to get a bit of game time at the weekends. I feel like I’ve improved a lot this season – my skating ability, being composed on the puck, not taking everything too fast.I thought I played some of my best hockey in recent years with Team GB in the men’s U20 World Championship. My coaches said I played well, which makes me proud to hear it from people at such a high-level. I aspire to play for the Belfast Giants, regardless of whether it’s now or in a few years’ time. It may take time, but I’m happy to wait for it.” Photo: William Cherry Press Eye
3. Danielle Hill
As 2024 approaches, record-breaking swimmer, Danielle Hill, is focusing on the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris. Detailing her goals, the Larne Swimming Club member said: "In 2024 the focus is entirely on Paris. I still have to qualify and have made this decision to forgo the opportunity in Doha in February as I believe my best chance is in May so that's the initial target. "Being competitive at European Short Course making two finals against top competition has given me the confidence to know that I can compete in Paris.
"I'm also enjoying working with the junior swimmers in Larne and helping them at the start of their careers so looking forward to getting a few qualifiers for the Irish summer championships as well." Photo: Contributed
4. Padraig McCrory
IBO world light-heavyweight champion, Padraig McCrory, spoke to NI World ahead of his recently-announced super-middleweight bout against Edgar Berlanga. The west Belfast man will take on the fighter from New York in Orlando on February 24. McCrory, who is undefeated in 18 professional fights, said: "I've been in camp for a few weeks. I had been due to fight again this year following my win over Steed Woodall at Falls Park in August, but I had a few niggles. This has worked out better as it has given me more time to prepare. I'll fly over on the Tuesday ahead of the fight on the Saturday. This will give me time to prepare and adjust to the time difference.This will be my first time fighting in the US. It could open doors for me. I'd like to thank everyone who has backed me and I'm looking forward to 2024." Photo: Press Eye