Mayor hails athletes’ efforts after NI success

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Council, Cllr. Billy Ashe, is pictured hosting a reception for member of Ballymena and Antrim Athletics Club. INBT37-221AC
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Council, Cllr. Billy Ashe, is pictured hosting a reception for member of Ballymena and Antrim Athletics Club. INBT37-221AC

Members of Ballymena & Antrim Athletic Club enjoyed another memorable event at the end of a successful season last week.

The Antrim Forum-based club was invited to a Mayor’s reception at the Braid Centre in order to recognize the achievement of winning the Northern Ireland final of the nationally recognized Youth Development League.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Council, Cllr. Billy Ashe, is pictured along with Ballymena and Antrim Athletics Club U-13 relay team Ronan Campbell, Jonathon Cochrane and Caleb Moore, who hold the Northern Ireland record and were ranked No. 1 at the start of the season. Absent from the photo is team member James Wright. INBT37-222AC

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Council, Cllr. Billy Ashe, is pictured along with Ballymena and Antrim Athletics Club U-13 relay team Ronan Campbell, Jonathon Cochrane and Caleb Moore, who hold the Northern Ireland record and were ranked No. 1 at the start of the season. Absent from the photo is team member James Wright. INBT37-222AC

The Youth Development League is a nationwide competition set up to promote athletics and to help find and develop young athletes into the next Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis.

Against all the odds, and after a monumental effort by the young athletes, BAAC came out on top and won the final last month. The packed room listened intently as the Mayor, Councilor Billy Ashe, talked about what it takes to achieve in life and how, in order to reach your goals, you must be dedicated and be prepared to work hard.

He also gave some key insights into believing within yourself that you can actually ‘do it’ and spoke of how his friend, Stevey McGeown, had completed 100 marathons in 100 days by conquering his fears first.

Attending the reception with the young athletes were some of the club’s coaches along with many parents but it was nice to see one very special guest, Maeve Kyle. Indeed Maeve was one of the founding members of the club, along with her husband Sean Kyle.

Maeve spoke of the history of the club and gave one particularly interesting fact, that Northern Ireland’s very own gold medal winner at the 1972 Olympics, Dame Mary Peters, was once a member of BAAC.

Although none of the young athletes could match an Olympic gold just yet, you can be sure some of them were thinking of giving it a try!

It was noted that some of the club’s athletes and coaches couldn’t attend the reception as they had already left to represent Northern Ireland by competing in the Sainsbury’s 2015 School’s Games in Manchester over the weekend. They included Curtis Bones, Erin Moffett, Stephen McCorry, Michael McAuley, Shane Martin and Thomas Hunter.

As the reception came to a close the Mayor reiterated his pride in the achievements of the club before inviting everyone to a tour of the council chambers.

All of his guests agreed that Mayor Ashe was a gracious and interesting host with the proof of that being the beaming smiles on the faces of the young athletes as they left the Town Hall.