The five-member commission will provide advice and act as a consultative body for both the Team NI management and the Board of Commonwealth Games NI.
The importance of listening to the athletes’ voices was highlighted in the recently released Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland Strategic Plan which covers the period through to 2027.
The Commission members have all competed for Team NI at either Glasgow 2014 or the Gold Coast 2018, collectively they have participated at 13 Commonwealth Games and the members include Eileen Burns (cycling 2018); Ian McClure (lawn bowls) 1994, 1998, 2010, 2014, 2018; Mark Montgomery (judo 2002) ] 2014 and wrestling 2010); Fionnuala Toner (netball 2014 and 2018) and Russell White (triathlon 2014 and 2018).
Northern Ireland joins a growing list of Commonwealth nations and territories to formalise the advice provided by athletes, ‘while providing an important mechanism for any concerns to be raised.
Robert McVeigh, Chair, Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland, said: “We are delighted have such a strong and varied group representing our athletes. They bring great experience and will undoubtedly provide useful input from the player’s perspective as we continue to grow as part of an athlete focused Commonwealth sporting movement.”
Mark Montgomery – a former Irish Open Judo champion – was the Northern Ireland flag-bearer at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony and is looking forward to his role on the Athlete Advisory Commission.
He said: “Having represented Northern Ireland at three games as an athlete I have always experienced support from Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland. However, additional engagement and the empowerment of athletes through this advisory panel is both forward thinking and progressive.
“The five of us are a really healthy mix, and we cover the demographics of the sports represented in Birmingham very well. Here the experienced opinions from individual and team sports through male and female voices will be shared, and I look forward to being in a position where we can all pass these on.”
Fellow commission member Ian McClure won a gold medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in the fours in Lawn Bowls in Kuala Lumpur and is a former world indoor champion in the pairs, who brings a wealth of experience to the role.
“I’m honoured to be nominated as part of the AAC and look forward to promoting the ‘voice of the athlete, not only in my own sport of bowls but in all sports as we look forward with anticipation to Birmingham ’22,” he said.
Cyclist Eileen Burns is equally delighted to represent her sport on the commission as she gears up for her second games.
“It is nice to be put forward and to be selected is even nicer, the cycling team whenever we go is quite small, so it is nice to represent cycling,” said Burns.
“I hope to use my experience, it was my first time going to the Commonwealth Games (Gold Coast) I suppose the pros and cons, I had a great time in the Gold Coast, so it is just giving feedback to show how positive the experience was and if I can provide any feedback that will help people attending the games in the future.”
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