Announcing improved infrastructure and new investment, Athletics Northern Ireland have today relaunched their academies to support the progression of talented 14-22 year old athletes. The Youth Academy at Jordanstown and Coleraine and Speed-Power Academy are now open for applications for 2019-2020 and eligible athletes may also apply to receive enhanced services as part of a small core group to be supported by British Athletics.
Athletics NI Academies create an opportunity for Northern Ireland’s best teenage athletes to train and learn together on a weekly basis. In September 2014 Laura Kerr and Tom Reynolds launched the Youth Academy to support Northern Ireland’s teenage athletes and their coaches through athletics training and education. Speaking today they said:
“We believe physical & technical preparation and a performance mindset are critical to developing successful senior athletes and we must create a challenging, open and professional environment where athletes and coaches can thrive. We aim to raise the profile of athletics in Northern Ireland and raise the performance of young athletes and their coaches by equipping them with the physical skills, mindset and performance behaviours necessary to reach their full potential. In doing so we believe Northern Ireland can develop a pipeline of junior athletes who will become successful seniors representing Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games and Great Britain & NI or Ireland at major championships.”
In recent years the Youth Academy has refined a physical preparation curriculum and gained significant investment from the European Union for international camps. We have seen remarkable progress from the current generation of teenage athletes with two Commonwealth Youth Games Gold Medals in 2017, three teenagers representing Northern Ireland at the Senior Commonwealth Games in 2018 and five top 5 finishes at The European U20 Championships this year as well as a host of major medals and national records from athletes including Sommer Lecky, Kate O’ Connor, Jack Agnew and Eve Walsh-Dann. Athletes including Aaron Sexton, Megan Marrs, Davicia Patterson and Ellie McCartney have played their part in re-writing the record books.