Belfast honours Dame Mary's gold medal

Published Monday, 03 September 2012
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Dame Mary Peters was at the centre of a celebration in Belfast, as well-known faces from Northern Ireland and around the sporting world celebrated the 40th anniversary of her gold medal.

Belfast honours Dame Mary's gold medal
Dame Mary Peters at her gala evening in Belfast's Grand Opera House. (© Presseye)

Olympic icons Sir Steve Redgrave, Duncan Goodhew, and Jane Torville were at the Grand Opera House for the event, and Dame Kelly Holmes described Mary as "a smashing lady".

"Just to be part of her night is very special," she told UTV. "She's a champion through and through, and she will always be a champion."

Mary Peters brought gold back to the city following her triumph in the pentathlon during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

She also won three gold medals and one silver when she represented Northern Ireland during Commonwealth Games between 1958 and 1974.

The former teacher set up the Mary Peters Trust, which gives financial help to athletes in training and benefitted from the evening's proceeds.

What better way for me to celebrate and remember all the good times over many, many years than to spend it enjoying the craic with friends and the Northern Ireland public who have supported me over all these years.

Dame Mary Peters

Former rugby international Jack Kyle, named Ireland's greatest ever Irish player, paid tribute to Mary's contribution to sport in the region.

"People say you've got to put back into the game what you get out of it, and Mary has done more than put back.

"She's put a tremendous amount back into the game, into the sport and encouraging people," he said.

In July she took part in the opening ceremony of the London Games, where she passed the torch to Co Down teen Katie Kirk, who she nominated as a promising young athlete.

Former Sports Minister Kate Hoey, who is also a High Jump champion, previously competed against Mary Peters.

"Her service, particularly to Northern Ireland, and her dedication to young sports men and women has just been amazing, and I'm so proud every time I see her on television that she's from Northern Ireland," she added.

Paddy Kielty, Dan Gordon, David Meade and Eamonn Holmes were part of the show, while Van Morrison, Brian Kennedy and Phil Coulter provided musical entertainment.

Former Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat Jennings said there was an "unbelievable turnout of stars".

"I think they have done her proud. Mary has been a success story for sport in Northern Ireland going back all those years," he told UTV.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Martin Tolan in Belfast wrote (880 days ago):
Why is this evening in the opera house not being recorded and televised ? Surely all of N Ireland young and old deserve to appreciate Mary. Would have made a great programme.
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