Northern Ireland news

Seven Northern Ireland athletes competing in Paralympic games in Tokyo

The 2021 Paralympics are taking place in Tokyo
Marie Louise McConville

ALL eyes will be on Tokyo for the next 12 days as seven athletes from Northern Ireland compete in the 2020 Paralympics.

With 539 medal events across 22 sports taking place, three athletes from the north will represent Team Ireland while a further four are representing Team GB.

A total of 4,000 Paralympians are taking part in the games, which run until September 5.

Among the 29 people representing Team Ireland are swimmer, Barry McClements, from Newtownards, Phillip Eaglesham, from Dungannon, who will compete in the shooting and Michael McKillop and Jason Smyth, both athletes, from Newtownabbey and Eglinton.

Those representing Team GB include Seaforde swimmer, Bethany Firth, Claire Taggart, from Larne, who will compete in the boccia, and James MacSorley, from Belfast, who is a wheelchair basketball player.

Claire Taggart and Philip Eagelsham are competing in their second Paralympic Games while Bethany Firth, Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop are competing in their third and fourth games.

Both James MacSorley and Barry McClements are making their debuts.

The games got officially underway yesterday with the Irish team the third of the competing nations to be introduced to those in attendance at the opening ceremony.

Team Ireland were led out by flag bearers, Britney Arendse and Jordan Lee.

Stormont's first and deputy first ministers send best wishes to the athletes yesterday.

First Minister Paul Givan described being selected for the Paralympic Games as "an incredible achievement".

"It has taken our athletes years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice to get to this point, and I wish them all the best of luck as they go for gold in Tokyo," he said.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill, said: "I want to wish all our amazing athletes, and their coaches and support teams, every success as the 2020 Paralympic Games get under way in Tokyo.

"Our Paralympians are incredible role models who have shown great dedication, determination and courage throughout their sporting careers to now compete at the Paralympics," she said.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey also gave her support to the competitors and praised the "support network" of family, friends and sports governing bodies" who help make qualifying possible.

"We should all be proud of our Paralympic athletes who have qualified for Tokyo and I will be following their fortunes with close interest," she said.

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