02 May 2012
With the 2012 London Olympic Games fast approaching, many of us will be enthused to put on our trainers, blow away the cobwebs on the bikes or even fancy ourselves as unlikely trampoline superstars in our very own back gardens.
But as parents seize the chance to get fit and with London 2012 team selections well underway, why not see if your child has what it takes to compete for their country in a future Olympic Games?
Northern Ireland will hopefully make its mark on the Olympics in Rowing. Local athletes Alan Campbell and brothers Peter and Richard Chambers, all ex-pupils of Coleraine Academical Institute, are all are expected to make the GB Olympic Rowing team, announced on June 6.
If you think rowing could be something your child would enjoy, Lagan Watersports, located on Ravenhill Road in Belfast, offer rowing activities for families throughout the year. Sessions usually last for 2-3 hours and are charged at £11.75 and £5.75 per child (children must be over 10 years old) W: www.laganwatersports.com. Belfast rowing club also host recruitment days for beginners. Find out more at www.belfastrowing.com
If rowing doesn’t take their fancy, why not bounce your children to Olympic glory through gymnastics? Kieran Behan is hoping for medal glory in London and is only the second Irish gymnast in history to qualify for the Olympics after Barry McDonald competed at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. The 22 year old originally from Dublin but now based in Surrey, has a truly inspirational story, overcoming impossible odds to become Ireland’s newest sporting icon. Kieran was crowned 2011 World Cup Series Floor Champion and made the Olympic team this year despite being told after an accident as a teenager that he might never walk again.
With a wide range of gymnastics clubs in Northern Ireland, parents are spoilt for choice. Rathgael Gymnastics and Trampolining Club in Bangor are current holders of the Northern Ireland Club of the Year, offering classes for all ages. Tel: 028 9145 9346. Shooting Starz in Londonderry run a variety of classes for kids – with an adults’ stretch class for those who fancy a go themselves! Tel: 028 7181 4555.
Or could your son or daughter be the next Barry McGuigan? Northern Ireland has produced an impressive boxing legacy with three Olympic hopefuls in 2012. Paddy Barnes, who won Ireland's first medal of the 2008 Beijing Games, a bronze, by winning his quarter final bout in the light flyweight division has recently qualified for this summer’s games. He will join Belfast flyweight Michael Conlon on the team. Belfast heavyweight Tommy McCarthy narrowly missed out on a place at the London 2012 Games after losing his semi-final at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Turkey in April.
Boxing facilities in Northern Ireland are now world renowned, demonstrated by the Australian and Cuban Olympic boxing team’s decision to have their training camp here. Cuba has dominated world amateur boxing for over three decades amassing 40 gold medals at the Olympics since 1972. Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín.
commented after the announcement that Cuban team would train in Belfast that “As well as giving Cuban athletes a springboard to success, it is my hope that hosting Cuba will inspire local boxers to achieve their best.”
To find a boxing club in your area, log onto www.iaba.ie for information. Whiterock Leisure Centre Tel: 028 9023 3239 also run afterschool classes for kids.