IT was a family affair at the 12th annual Newtownabbey Sports Awards this week as athlete Michael McKillop and his coach and dad, Paddy, walked away with two of the prizes.
Golden boy Michael was the only name in the running for the Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability category following his heroics at the Paralympic Games in London. He achieved fantastic results on the track, winning two gold medals with a world record time in the T37 800m, and a paralympic record in the T37 1500m.
His dad was named Coach of the Year, seeing off stiff competition from Ballyclare High rugby coach Dan Soper and boxing’s Seamus McCann.
Speaking at the awards, Michael said last year’s games went a long way in raising the profile of disability sport: “I think for able-bodied people in today’s society, London 2012 was the best opportunity for them to see disability sport as sport. I think [it showed it is] people who take part in sport with a disability, not people with a disability taking part in sport; I think that has to come first.”
He also spoke of the rigours of his training regime: “My job is seven days a week, training as hard as possible and having people around me like my dad, and also... ‘Team McKillop’, which is made up of my strength and conditioning coaches, my physios and everyone else.”
Also picking up a gong was Duncan Elder, chairman of Templepatrick Cricket Club, who won the Services to Sport award, recognising his dedication and years of service to the Ballyclare-based club.
Promising athlete Lydia Mills, a pupil at Ballyclare High School was named Junior Sportsperson of the Year, pipping fellow athlete Jack Magee and kickboxer Glenn McFarland to the post.
Irish hockey international John Jackson was crowned Adult Sportsperson of the Year. He was unable to attend the event, but proud parents Peter and Jennifer picked up the gong on his behalf.
Club of the Year went to Mossley Hockey Club, while Ballyclare High School’s 2012 Schools’ Cup winning 1st XI hockey side scooped the Junior Team of the Year title.
Ballyclare Rugby Club stalwart Moore Kennedy was the winner of the Janet Parkinson award.