Donegal's future Olympians . . . . Donegal's future Olympians

Donegal's future Olympians . . . . Donegal's future Olympians

James Kelly - Shot Putt

A student at Raphoe Royal and Prior, James Kelly from St. Johnston has already been grabbing the headlines for some fantastic performances on the national and international scene.

Earlier this year James was honoured by Athletics Ireland with a special award for his performances in the shot putt. In March, the Finn Valley AC teenager broke his brother John’s Irish record as he won the U17 shot putt at the AAI Juvenile Indoor Championships.

Then in July, his throw of 17.07m was not only a personal best, but it helped him to gold in a schools international in England. His previous best had been 16.86m.

Brendan O’Donnell - hammer

At just 16 years of age, Donegal’s top hammer thrower has already left an indelible mark on the event at his club, Lifford Strabane AC, with several young athletes taking up hammer throwing as a result of his exploits and aiming to follow in his footsteps. Brendan is a student at St. Eunan’s College in Letterkenny and last year competed for Ireland European Youth Olympics in Tbilisi where he finished a magnificent 7th in the Hammer final.

He was back in the Georgian capital in July for the inaugural staging of the European Youth Athletics Championships and his 10th place finish in a quality field in the final once again showed just why this Donegal teenager has such a bright future in the sport.

Sommer Lecky - High Jump

Finn Valley AC high jumper Sommer Lecky narrowly missed out on a medal at the European Youth Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia last month.

She was one of a number of Finn Valley athletes taking part in the event and just came up short against some top class opposition.

Earlier this year at the National Senior Championships in Dublin, the 16 year old from Castlederg took a fantastic gold medal to become the first Tyrone female in the history of the sport to win a senior title. It was a proud day for her club where senior members still remember her coming to the Twin Towns at 8 years old for the school sports and winning the 60m race.

Brett McGinty - Boxing

The Deele College, Raphoe student is from St Johnston and boxes out of the Oak Leaf ABC Club in Derry City. He’s one of the emerging young stars of Irish boxing.

He is a six time National Champion and a silver medalist from last year’s Commonwealth Youth Championship in Samoa.

McGinty was born in Derry and his parents are from Donegal. He is a welterweight and turns 18 next month. He is one of a current rich crop of young Donegal boxers picked out by the President of the Donegal Boxing board Peter O’Donnell as one to watch.

“Fours hours is a long time in boxing never mind four years,” O’Donnell said, with reference to the next Olympics.

“But Brett McGinty is a special talent and has the potential to qualify for Tokyo in 2020.

“He is one of number of young boxers we have in the county with the potential of boxing at the 2020 Olympics,

“Bryan McNamee from Convoy is another. Bryan is a also a welterweight he has just turned 17 and has already a multiple national champion.

“You also have the McCole brothers, Matthew and Mark in Dungloe, who are class young boxers. Matthew is a flyweight and Mark is a welterweight.

“Just like Brett and Bryan, it will be interesting to see how Matthew and Mark progress over the next few years.”

Arlene Crossan - 400m hurdles

At 17 years, Arlene Crossan has already enjoyed an exceptional few years in athletics.

One of the high points came last month in Tbilisi in the European Youth Championships where she ran a brilliant heat to qualify for the semi-final. However, her championships ended prematurely when injury forced her withdrawl from the semi final.

Just a few weeks earlier, the Letterkenny teenager had finished a brilliant second in her first ever National Senior Championships in Santry, having won gold in the Junior Nationals in Tullamore.

Coached by Shauna Carlin, Arlene only took up the 400m hurdles this year having previously specialised in the long jump. In her younger years she had excellent in sprints and 800m A back injury forced the Finn Valley athlete to switch from the long jump back to the track and the transition has been hugely impressive.

Janine Boyle - athletics

It’s been a busy time for the young Finn Valley athlete who ran in the 200m in the European Youths Athletics Championships in Tbilisi where she was an impressive qualifier from her heat and got through to the semi finals.

From Tbilisi she travelled straight to Poland and linked up with the Irish team at the World Junior Athletics U20 championships. She was part of the 4 x 100m relay team who were in action last Friday.

Like so many of her club colleagues, Janine has also excelled in other disciplines. She began 2016 by medaling in the long jump at the GloHealth Junior & U23 Indoor Championships in Athlone.

And last year at the Ulster Sportshall Finals, Janine was the standout athlete winning Gold in the 2 Lap Race and in the Standing Long Jump as well as sharing the Overall Best Athlete award at u15 level.

Aaron McGlynn - 800m

Aaron began 2016 by taking on all of Britain and sweeping all before him to capture a British Universities and Colleges’ U-17 championship in Sheffield.

The 16 year old won the 800m final in Sheffield in a time of 1.56.06 to see off the cream of emerging young English, Scottish and Welsh talent.

From the townland of Cloncleigh in Cloghan Aaron is an all round sportsman and is a talented Gaelic Footballer and soccer player and has represented Donegal at Interleague schoolboy soccer and also has been selected on Donegal GAA underage development squads.

He is a national champion at all age levels and already comparisons are being made with his fellow county man, European silver medallist Mark English.

He is a member of the Lagan Valley Athletic Club in Belfast, based at the Mary Peters Track on the Upper Malone Road in Belfast.

Aaron was unable to compete at the European Youth Championships in Tbilisi despite achieving the qualifying standard. However, at the National Indoor 800 seniors championship in Athlone earlier this year, he showed his promise by reaching the final, finishing fifth behind Mark English.

The Magees - badminton

Chloe Magee is preparing for her third Olympic Games but this might not be her last.

There’s every chance the Raphoe woman, along with her brother Sam, might give the Mixed Doubles event a try in Tokyo in 2020. Last year, they won bronze at the European Games in Baku, although they were very disappointed not to have got through their semi-final clash with their French opponents.

Brothers Josh and Sam Magee could also be considered for the Men’s Doubles. They were also bronze medal winners last year in Baku.

Rachael Darragh, a niece of Chloe, Josh and Sam, is another member of the family who will have Tokyo in her sights.

She got into the sport by picking up shuttles as a child for Sam and Chloe. Her major achievements include winning the Irish U19 title in 2012; reaching the quarter-finals in the women’s singles of the Irish Future Series in 2013 and winning national titles at U15 and U17 level.

Mona McSharry - swimming

The Colaiste Cholmcille, Ballyshannon student is a phenomenal talent and one of the brightest swimming prospects to ever come out of the north-west.

From Grange in Co. Sligo, she’s a member of the Marlin’s Swimming Club in Ballyshannon. Back in May, she won an amazing five gold medals at the Irish Open National Championships. The teenager took gold in the 200m individual medley, 200m breaststroke and 50m freestule as well as the 50m and 100m breaststroke events.

She trains six days a week and she’s already on the Irish International squad so now and then they take her to train with a special group for four or five days as part of the Emerging Talent programme.

In July, she competed at the European Junior Swimming Championships in Hungary and took a Bronze in the 50m Breaststroke and a Silver in the 100m Breaststroke.

She was also part of the 4-strong mixed medley team that finished third in their semi-final in a new Irish record of 3:55.65.

Karl Griffin - 800 metres

Karl Griffin, like Mark English, is an 800m runner and just like the Letterkenny man, runs in the colours of UCD AC.

A former Tir Chonaill AC athlete, Karl is from Mountcharles and has been living something in the shadow of his fellow county man English in recent seasons.

He just turned 21 at the beginning of last month. He has claimed national honours up through the age groups since taking up running seriously as a 14 year old.

He won the Celtic Games in Wales as a 15 year-old and was named Irish Junior Athlete of the Year in 2014.

He rates his sixth place finish at last year’s European U-23 Championships and also winning the 800 metres at last season’s Morton Games as some of his finest achievements.

His personal best time for the 800m is 1:47.39 outdoors and 1:49.82 indoors. He was a member of the Irish team at last month’s European Athletic Championships in Amsterdam and ran a seasonal best time of 1:49.37, but did not qualify from the heats.