NEXT STOP RIO FOR MCKILLOP AFTER GOLDEN 2015
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After a glorious 2015, NI track king Michael McKilliop has a Christmas wish for next year – more gold medals in Rio.
On a visit to Downpatrick and Co Down Railway Museum to celebrate National Lottery funding in Northern Ireland, the Glengormley athlete is going full steam ahead to the Paralympics in 2016.
The middle-distance world record holder picked up two world titles in Doha earlier this year and is on track for further glory in Brazil next September.
And he will be hoping the next stop is a podium in Rio after hopping onboard a steam engine at the Lottery-funded heritage museum.
The three-times paralympic gold medallist said: “The countdown is on to the 2016 Games in Rio and as we get down to the serious business for next year it is worth recognising the massive difference National Lottery funding has made to sport in Northern Ireland.
“Through Sport NI it has supported elite athletes and future talent by getting behind grassroots projects and investing in world class coaching and training facilities such as the Sports Institute Northern Ireland.”
National Lottery players have raised more than £1 billion for more people, projects and places in Northern Ireland.
The Downpatrick and Country Down Railway has received more than £600,000 of National Lottery funding in a series of grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund going back to 1996.
The most significant of these include the construction of the carriage viewing gallery, the restoration of a steam locomotive and the removal of a century-old listed goods shed from Maghera and its rebuild in Downpatrick.
Brian Goodfellow, Downpatrick and Co Down Railway chairman, said: “National Lottery funding has enabled us to preserve unique aspects of railway heritage. In addition, it has allowed us to put on display our collection of carriages and highlight their important role in our history.
“We were delighted to be able to host Michael McKillop at our station – he is a first class ambassador and we wish him all the best in Rio next year.”
Vicki Kennedy, from the National Lottery, added: “National Lottery players can be proud of the life-changing difference they make in Northern Ireland.
“From trains to track stars, our funding has had a massive impact over the last 21 years.
“The next 12 months promises to be even better as we look forward to cheering on our sporting heroes in Rio and continuing to invest in preserving our past and building a better future.”
Notes to Editors
Pics from Bill Smyth: 07720 077284
Next stop Rio: Three-time Paralympic gold medallist Michael McKillop on board a steam engine at the National Lottery funded Downpatrick and Co Down Railway with guard Innis Meenie as part of a celebration of National Lottery funding in Northern Ireland.
All aboard for Rio: Three-time Paralympic gold medallist with local schoolchildren, Thomas, Grace, Gerald and Sarah on a refurbished railway carriage at the National Lottery-funded Downpatrick and Co Down Railway as part of a celebration of National Lottery funding in Northern Ireland.
National Lottery players have raised more than £34 billion for arts, education, environment, health, heritage, sport and voluntary projects across the UK since 1994; see the difference it’s making near you at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk
Michael McKillop is a three-time Paralympic Gold Medallist and World Record holder, competing in T37, 800m and 1500m. He is also a Sport Northern Ireland sporting ambassador and is a SINI-supported athlete.
Downpatrick and Co Down Railway is an accredited museum and charity which is dedicated to preserving and enhancing NI’s local railway heritage. Staffed only by volunteers it is Northern Ireland’s only working heritage railway, offering a passenger service between Downpatrick and Inch Abbey.
For further information please contact
Ruairi O’Kane on 07788 612804 or email Ruairi.o’firstname.lastname@example.org