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Talent is Not Enough Say Sports Stars

A leading member of the All Blacks rugby squad’s backroom staff has been helping young sports stars raise their performance levels at an event in the University of Ulster.

Around 150 top sports performers in schools from across the province met former New Zealand Rugby High Performance Manager Paul MacKinnon to talk about what it takes to reach the top of their game.

The University, in partnership with the Bank of Ireland, hosted a student sport seminar on the Jordanstown campus to provide sportsmen and women of the future with information and advice on how to help improve their performance levels and reach their sporting potential.

Paul MacKinnon was the High Performance Player Development Manager for the All Blacks squad that won the IRB Rugby World Cup last year.

He explained: “My talk explored the successful characteristics of what it takes to reach the top. I explained how natural talent and performance foundations, such as; coachability, motivation, dedication and resilience, are the key to sustaining success.”

Chaired by sports broadcaster Nigel Ringland, the seminar which took place this month, also included insights into the lives of local sportsmen and women including John Afoa and Jared Payne from Ulster Rugby, Frances Campbell from NI Netball and Aaron Cunningham from the University of Ulster Gaelic Academy.

Dr Nigel Dobson, Head of Sports Services at the University of Ulster, said: “A range of topics were covered by the speakers including performance planning, nutrition, hydration and sports psychology.

“The students heard first-hand how these top athletes reached the pinnacle of their sports and also had an opportunity to question and interact with various sports stars from Ulster Rugby, Ulster GAA and Olympic athletes.”

Caption: University of Ulster Provost Professor Alistair Adair with pupils fromSt Eunan's College, Letterkenny, and the Bank of Ireland's Pat Byrne.