Two North Coast sportswomen have begun their Olympic Gold journeys today as Tokyo’s Olympic games kicked off with a spectacular opening ceremony.
Hanna Scott and Katie Mullan will represent Great Britain and Ireland in their respective sports, rowing and hockey, at the games taking place a year later than planned after the Coronovirus pandemic led to the event’s cancellation in 2020.
At just 21, Coleraine rower Hanna is a member of the Bann Rowing Club, which also boosts Olympic medalists and fellow champion rowers, members Alan Campbell and brothers Richard & Peter Chambers.
Making up one of the 24 strong GB woman’s rowing team, Hanna took silver in the quadruple sculls at the European Championships this year in Varese, Italy.
Also from Coleraine Katie (27) represents Ireland on the Hockey team after being selected for the final 16 squads earlier this year. This will be the first Olympic games that the Irelands hockey team will participate in, with their first game this Saturday (July 24).
Katie, who plays at senior level for Ballymoney, captained the Ireland team in 2018 at the Women’s Hockey World Cup, leading the team to second place and a silver medal in the tournament.
Ballymoney Hockey Club – Katie’s home club – have spoken of their pride, saying: “We are so proud of Katie and so so excited to watch every moment of the Irish Women’s journey in the Olympic Games. Enjoy every moment.”
East Londonderry MLA Claire Sugden extended her best wished to both ladies, posting on social media: “Best wishes for huge success to two local Olympians Hannah Scott and Katie Mullan as they begin their Olympic journey in Tokyo today. We are all behind you!”
This year’s events, however, will be very different from the one originally planned with the decision taken earlier this month to ban spectators from the games. The opening ceremony saw just 22 British delegates take part, in pale comparison to previous Olympic games.
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has wished local athletes taking part in the Tokyo Olympics every success.
The Minister said: “To be an Olympian and represent your country at the Olympic Games is an amazing sporting achievement. It is the realisation of many years of dedicated hard work and I am extremely proud of all our athletes who have qualified for the Games.
“Each competitor has a strong support network behind them, including family, friends, coaches, sports governing bodies – I applaud them all for helping our athletes achieve their dream of representing us at one of the world’s greatest sporting events.
“Sport has such a positive impact on our lives, both physically and mentally so I am particularly pleased that we have Olympians who are such great role models and ambassadors and whose achievements will no doubt encourage more young people to participate in sport and to realise their own dreams and ambitions.”
The Minister concluded: “I look forward to watching our Olympians and hopefully we will see some medals coming back from Tokyo.”
Both Hanna and Katie will undoubtedly be setting their sights on Olympic Gold as the multi-sports event runs until August 8.