BY CONOR MCPARLAND
Northern Ireland’s Olympians have secured their highest ever medal tally since the 1956 Melbourne Games. A total of five exceeds the previous Olympic best of three medals acquired in Melbourne.
Representing Team GB, Northern Ireland’s first success came in the form of rowing. Coleraine brothers, Richard and Peter Chambers achieved silver in the men’s lightweight fours, whilst Alan Campbell claimed bronze in the men’s single sculls.
Northern Ireland Olympian success was also seen throughout Team Ireland. Michael Conlon won bronze in the flyweight boxing competition, after losing his semi-final match to Cuban boxer, Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana. Fellow Irish boxer, Paddy Barnes also secured bronze in an agonising defeat to China’s Zou Shiming in the light-flyweight division.
London 2012 did provide some negatives for athletes from Northern Ireland. Hockey star, Iain Lewers narrowly missed out on a medal, despite scoring for Team GB in their 3-1 defeat to Australia in the bronze medal match. Northern Ireland cyclist Wendy Houvenaghel was left out of Team GB’s gold medal winning women’s team pursuit line-up, being told only 30 minutes before the event took place. Houvenaghel therefore missed out on the chance to become the first woman since Mary Peters in 1972 to bring back gold.
However, the overall success of Northern Ireland’s athletes at London 2012 has resulted in a positive message from Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin, who claimed that more than £10 million will be invested in Northern Ireland sport in the coming years. She also gave recognition to the unifying effect of the Games: “It’s very clear people supported the athletes regardless of their own political allegiances”, she said.