London 2012 Open Weekend

Sports minister kicks off events in Northern Ireland

Sports minister Nelson McCausland has begun the countdown to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games with the launch of London 2012’s Open Weekend.

The Open Weekend, which takes place this weekend (July 23-25), involves dozens of events across Northern Ireland to coincide with the two year countdown towards the greatest sporting showcase in the world.

The Open Weekend concept was developed to help people see, touch, hear and take part in new things to spark interest and enthusiasm in the run up to the Games in 2012.

The Minister attended the launch of this year’s Open Weekend with Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Pat Convery, at Belfast City Council’s ‘Try It’ event at the Ozone Leisure Complex in Ormeau Park.

The community sports event involved over 500 children aged between the ages of eight and 15 from summer schemes across Belfast. They had the opportunity to try out over 15 Olympic and non Olympic sports, as well as participating in dance.

'To mark the countdown to 2012 everyone across the UK is being encouraged to participate in an open weekend event,' explained the minister. 'With two years to go, now is the time for everyone – for business, government, communities and individuals to think about how they can engage in what is a once in a lifetime experience.'

'The Olympics may never again be as close to our shores – and we can all play a role in the Games.'

Minister McCausland and Lord Mayor Convery were joined at the event by Paul Deighton, Chief Executive Officer, London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG), and Boyzone’s Shane Lynch, who is an ambassador for Donaghmore's arts and sports project ImagineAction.

Events taking place during the Open Weekend include mystery reading challenges in public libraries across the country - courtesy of Libraries NI - dance classes, talent contests, relay races, sports days, guided bicycle rides, bog snorkelling and more.

'This is a great opportunity to enthuse our young people not just about the upcoming Olympics but about the other values of sport, keeping fit and healthy competition and camaraderie,' added Lord Mayor Convery.

'We hope to spark their interest so they maintain a lifelong physical activity. The link with the Olympics is perfect, especially since we are also hoping to welcome some of the Olympic Athletes to pre-training camps in Belfast with Andersonstown Leisure Centre as a possible training site.'

To find out more about the London 2012 Open Weekend, or to take part in events in your area, log on to the London 2012 website here.