Irish athletics Maeve Kyle

This March saw the championships come to Meadowbank, in Magherafelt, Northern Ireland, for the second time and was met with approval from former Olympians, competitors, coaches and guests alike.


Pioneering Irish Coach and Athlete Maeve Kyle was full of enthusiasm for the event and its venue. The inspirational octogenarian, of Ballymena and Antrim Athletics Club, has paved the way for Ireland’s female sprinters having competed in three Olympic Games and by winning a bronze in the 400m at the 1966 European Indoor Athletics Championships in Dortmund. She also gained 58 Irish caps while competing for Ireland in hockey.

 

Maeve said: “I love this facility. It is a marvellous indoor sports arena which shows that, with the right surface, both hockey and track events can take place under the same roof. It can be used for a wide range of sports. It has a lovely café, beautiful changing rooms – I like coming here – it has a nice atmosphere.

 

“There is a track and field outside, so it is great for indoor and outdoor events. I think every province should have one of these. We didn’t have anything like this in my day and if we did I would’ve thought I’d died and gone to Heaven.”

 

John McClaughlin, Chief Executive Officer of Magherafelt District Council, added: “It is very satisfying to see sports associated with different political and religious backgrounds played here side by side. “We find one of the strongest facets of the building is its versatility. It facilitates a wide range of sports: athletics, tennis, badminton, volleyball, netball and basketball. Its principal use is for soccer and training for Gaelic football and hockey. The facility has obviously raised the profile of the district which at the end of the day is a small, rural area – but Meadowbank Arena is now seen as a regional and national facility.”

 

The event was organised by Athletics Ireland and supported by Magherafelt District Council, Ulster Athletics Council and Rubb Buildings Ltd.

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