Belfast boxing star Paddy Barnes has backed the University of Ulster’s plans to open its doors for an Olympic open day this weekend.
Barnes, who won a bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is set to attend celebrations at Ulster’s Jordanstown campus on Saturday 24 July to mark the two-year countdown to the opening of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.
Saturday 24 July is also the same day that the Northern Ireland boxing team for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India is due to be announced.
Through the Ulster Sports Academy’s pioneering ‘Sport Comes 2 Town’ initiative, the £20 million sports facilities will host the free family fun event and will feature 15 sports for young people to enjoy.
Barnes, who in June won the gold medal in the European Boxing Championships, said that the initiatives such as the University of Ulster’s could inspire the sports stars of the future.
He said: “The Olympic open day and ‘Sport Comes 2 Town’ are great projects to get kids involved in sport and let them enjoy themselves. The facilities and the staff based at the University of Ulster are just fantastic. I have used the facilities a lot during my training and think that this is a great centre for developing local talent.
“The Olympic open day is marking the countdown to the 2012 Games and in two years time I would hope to be there in the ring in London competing and trying to improve on the bronze I won in Beijing.”
The light-flyweight boxer will be at the Jordanstown campus on Saturday with his home club Holy Family ABC who will be putting on a training exhibition at the event.
The boxers join a host of sports on show on the day including archery, cheerleading, basketball and a mini-Olympics.
The world-class sports facilities at Ulster’s Jordanstown campus are one of the venues designated by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games as a pre-Olympic and Paralympic training camp for the 2012 spectacle.
Sports activities for Saturday 24 July are for all ages to try out and a full list of sports and times are on www.sportsulster.com