Local athletes competing in the Commonwealth Games are an 'inspiration to us all', Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has said as the Opening Ceremony gets underway in Birmingham.
Minister Hargey made the remarks as she prepares to attend the Games to support local athletes competing in a range of disciplines including gymnastics, boxing, swimming, netball and basketball.
"I am delighted to be attending these Games for the first time and to have an opportunity to meet and cheer on our amazing athletes in person.
"I want to wish each and every one of our athletes, including their support staff, the best of success in their respective disciplines. I am truly humbled to see the levels of preparation, commitment and dedication along with the sacrifices that each of these athletes have made to arrive at a point that sees them with a real chance of taking home a medal. They are an inspiration to us all."
The 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games take place between 28 July and 8 August and will see over 5050 athletes competing in in 280 events in 20 sports.
Among athletes the Communities Minister will be supporting in person, are gymnasts competing in the team and individual events over the weekend including Eamon Montgomery, Ewan McAteer and Rhys McClenaghan.
Minister Hargey added:
"I particularly want to pay tribute to our three gymnasts and to say how pleased I am that they are able to compete on this international stage. I am delighted that they and indeed all the athletes, through competing at events such as these, will inspire many more young people to engage in sport.''
During her time in Birmingham, Minister Hargey also plans to attend an event hosted by the Scottish Government to celebrate 10 Years of the Daily Mile, an initiative which is supported by hundreds of schools here and encourages pupils to run or walk for 15 minutes every day. The Minister will also be attending a Sports Cabinet meeting.
The Minister concluded:
"Increasing participation in sport and physical activity, particularly female participation, is a key priority for my Department and a key theme in the new Strategy for Sport and Physical Activity - Active Living.
"It is about working together to get those involved in sport to realise that inclusion and equality are critical elements of growing participation in sport and the importance of physical activity from a young age.
"And while events like the Commonwealth Games showcase our amazing talent, sport can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of their age and ability - there is something for everyone."