Team Northern Ireland has achieved its best result ever at a Youth Commonwealth Games, finishing in 8th place on the medal table with a haul of four Gold, four Silver and four Bronze medals.
The 2015 Games, hosted by Samoa, saw Northern Ireland’s new generation of sporting stars maintain the success enjoyed at the last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, with local boxers once again winning a host of medals.
Light-flyweight Stephen McKenna claimed Northern Ireland’s first ever Youth Games boxing Gold, with a unanimous victory over Scotland’s William Stuart. His achievement would later be matched, not once, but twice more as fellow boxers James McGivern and Aidan Walsh proceeded to claim further Golds in the bantamweight and light-welterweight divisions respectively. There were also silver medals for light-middleweight Brett McGinty and lightweight Tiernan Bradley to bring the total for the NI boxing squad, led by Head Coach John Conlan, to a fantastic five medals.
Outside of the boxing, Team NI enjoyed further Gold medal success in the pool when Conor Ferguson emerged victorious in the final of the 100m backstroke with a time of 55.87 seconds. The Larne swimmer, who won Silver at this summer’s European Youth Games, also claimed a pair of Silver medals in the 200m backstroke (with a time of 2:03.90) and 50m backstroke (26.19). In addition, Conor and Team Northern Ireland took home a fourth swimming medal with a Bronze in the 4x50m medley, won with teammates James Brown, Emma Reid and Danielle Hill.
Also enjoying multiple medal successes was Ben Fisher, who won a pair of medals in athletics with Bronze medals in both the 110m hurdles (with a personal best time of 14.32 seconds) and long jump events. Rounding off Team NI’s dozen medals was Lisburn bowler Stephen Kirkwood, who won Bronze in the final of the singles event.
A total of 16 athletes from Northern Ireland competed at the Games, supported by a team of coaches and medical staff including Sport NI Physiotherapist Chris McNicholl. Paying tribute to Team NI’s performance, Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín commented:
“I am pleased to applaud this exceptional performance from a team of young athletes.”
“In total, the team won 12 medals – four gold, four silver, four bronze – to finish in an impressive eighth place on the overall medal table. This is a remarkable accomplishment, all the more because it covers sports from bowling to boxing, and includes achievements on the track and in the swimming pool.”
“While we applaud the medallists, everyone who made the journey to the games can be proud of their efforts. I am pleased that we were represented across a wide range of sports.”
“Also, I pay tribute to the support team, including coaching and medical staff, who accompanied the competitors. For a group of young athletes, travelling halfway around the world to compete is an exciting prospect, but also a daunting one. It is a credit to the entire team that they performed to such a high level, and returned with a fantastic number of medals.”