Donegal’s Nikki Bradley, embodies the ethos of Sport4Life, a sports conference and expo which will run in the Finn Valley Centre, Stranorlar from 13th to 15th November, the conference launch was told on Tuesday in the Centre.
A series of speakers urgend people to get involved at specialist or beginner level through the conference which seems certain to offer people at all level a real chance to learn more about the benefits of sport. The launch was told that “Life was not a spectator Sport” and there were huge health benefits to getting active.
Nikki Bradley, one of the launch day speakers on Tuesday, epitomises that philosophy and is a role model for getting up and on with it, no matter what issues may arise on a person to person basis.
Diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer (Ewing’s Sarcoma) at 16 and the receiver of a second total right hip replacement at the age of 26, Nikki has been on a truly unique journey. So unique in fact, she has been informed by her consultant that she is currently one of less than ten people worldwide to have lived through what she has.
At the launch she told event partners, sports faciliators and the media how she was faced with the choice “to either crumble or turn everything around”. She decided on the latter and met with Michael Black, letterkenny and they worked together to make sport fit into her life.
In 2013 Nikki set up a fitness based awareness campaign called ‘Fighting Fit for Ewing’s’ where she partakes in physical challenges such as climbing Muckish and Errigal to abseilling down Fanad Lighthouse to highlight the importance of exercise for rehabilitation.
Nikki is currently training to try and break the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest woman on crutches. “People can embrace sport from all walks of life, you don’t have to be the typical sports person, you just have to make it work for you. Sport is not something I can just dip into, this is for life, so I am delighted to be attending the first Sport4Life in our county,” she said.
Seamus Neely, Chief Executive of Donegal County Council explained how the concept for Sport4Life arose out of discussions to market the Twin Towns as an ideal base to host conferences in the heart of Donegal. The twin Towns, he said, with its ample accommodation and fantastic receational facilities, was the perfect fit.
Donegal County Council, as coordinators of this the first Sport4Life, are, he said, delighted to have Triathlon Ireland, the HSE, Finn Valley Centre, BASICC and Athletics Ireland as partners in this initiative.
Michael Black, Club and Coach Development Manager with Triathlon Ireland said they were absolutely delighted to be involved with the event. He said Triathlon is now the fastest growing sport in the world with membership in Ireland “skyrocketing” from really nothing a few years back to now having 12,000 members and two clubs in Donegal.
Michael said the Sport4Life conference was a fantastic opportunity for people from the county and further afield to meet and ask questions of the very special guest at the conference, Alistair Brownlee, who is the world’s best triathlete and could represent his country in any number of sports.
“Triathlon Ireland is currently running a Try a Tri for Women in the county and it will be fantastic for them to complete their course at Sport4Life by doing their first Tri on the Saturday of Sport4Life,2 he added. With the expert fantastic speakers attending this event, he encouraged everyone to attend.
Brendan O’Donnell from the HSE stated that they were also delighted to be involved as sport plays such a huge and important role in this country. “As a health organisation, we spend €13 billion. Sport is so important for health. Sport4Life is important for us to work with and it’s also welcome to be involved with the various partners on an interagency basis.”
He added that sport has been associated with competition, but now there is a huge focus on participation.
Patsy McGonagle, Finn Valley Centre, said he was looking forward to the event which would offer them as hosts a great platform to showcase the facilities on offer in the centre and to welcome people to the area.
Barry McCullagh, Director of BASICC, hoped that Sport4Life would set the scene for future opportunities and hoped that this would be the first of many events like this in years to come. BASICC, established in 2008, is an integrated community company who act as a catalyst for development of enterprise in the Finn Valley area. They will officially opening their new facility The BASE early next month.
Cllr. Ciaran Brogan, Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council in offically launching Sport4Life stated that sport had a huge role to play in our communities. He stated said we have been blessed in this county with great sports people, such as Mark English, Shay Given, Seamie Coleman and Michael Murphy. Cllr. Brogan payed tribute to Nikki Bradley and said that she demonstrated that there is no excuse for anyone not to get involved in sport.
MC for the launch, Mary Daly, outlined the programme for the weekend with the expo opening Friday from 6 to 9pm, Saturday 12 to 6pm and Sunday 11 to 4pm. The Conference will take place on Saturday from 9.30am to 4.30pm with many various speakers including Dermot Simpson, sports physiotherapist; John Hession, sports performance coach; Barry Murray, Nutritionist; breakout sessions with top coaches in swimming, running, cycling and strenght and conditioning. The afternoon will draw to a close with an Ask the Experts style panel chaired by Jason Black where you can pose your questions to an invited panel followed by a meet and greet with Alistair Brownlee. A Gala Dinner takes place on Saturday night in Jackson’s Hotel followed by a Q & A with many special guests.
Sunday will be full of activity with the Finn Valley Remembrance 10k and a fun Aquaton event. Mary thanked Michael McDaid for coming to the launch and invited people to learn more about a new sport he was demonstrating Pickleball. Mary also outlined details of Donegal’s Fittest Person, which is being organised through Mick Coleman of Viking Fit in Stranorlar; he is inviting gyms in Donegal to host competitions leading up to Sport4Life and put forward their top male and female to the final which will be held at the Expo over the Sport4Life weekend.
She said there was a range of very competitive sponsorship packages available and that stands could be booked for the expo at very attractive prices.
Mary concluded by saying that ‘Life was not a spectator Sport’ and encourged everyone to #getinvolved
*To book your place on Sport4Life or to find out more about the range of packages available to businesses contact 074/9190909 or email email@example.com Up-to-date details will also be posted on facebook www.facebook.com/sport4life and on twitter @sport4LifeIre