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Smyth Hopes To Inspire A New Generation Of Sporting Heroes

Antoinette Mckeown, pupils from Eglinton PS and Jason Smyth

“You could be our next sporting hero!”  This was the message from Sport Northern Ireland Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown as she joined Paralympic Gold medallist Jason Smyth at the launch of Sport Northern Ireland’s Sporting Ambassador programme.

On a visit to his former primary school, Eglinton PS in L’Derry, Jason was enrolled as the first ever “Sporting Ambassador”.

Through the “Sporting Ambassadors” programme, Sport Northern Ireland’s funded athletes and athletes supported by the Sports Institute Northern Ireland, will be giving back to communities in areas of high social need, by visiting schools and community groups to share their experiences, inspiring whole communities to take part in sport.

Jason is one of many elite athletes funded by Sport Northern Ireland’s Athlete Investment Programme, who have achieved world, European, Olympic and Paralympic titles. 

Speaking at the launch, Antoinette McKeown said: “Our high performance athletes have done us proud and have given us plenty to celebrate over the last few years. They are excellent role models and these Sporting Ambassador visits, which Sport Northern Ireland is leading on, will be happening up and down the country. This will help us to inspire the next generation in sport.”

Antoinette added: “Seeing our elite athletes committing their time to community sport is a really important element of our sporting legacy and makes a real difference to budding sportsmen and women across the Province.”

Sporting Ambassadors will give an insight to life as a high performance athlete but also the benefits sport brings to their physical and mental health and general well-being.

Jason Smyth added: “I am always overwhelmed by the pride and support I receive from home.  The pupil’s here have created a mural, which shows everything that is great about Eglinton and it includes an image of me and the golden post box!

“Sport Northern Ireland has bestowed a great honour on me and I’m very proud to be seen as a Sporting Ambassador for future athletes. This is a great opportunity to give something back to my local community.” 

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