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Queen's Celebrates Sporting Excellence at 2023 Deep RiverRock Blues Awards

The Awards are a key highlight of the sporting year at Queen's and showcases the positive impact of all those who contribute to sport and wellbeing at the University.

Blues Awards- the winners
The award winners

On Thursday 8 June the Deep RiverRock Blues Awards returned to the Whitla Hall. The Awards have been held annually at Queen’s for over 70 years to recognise excellence and achievement in sport across the University.

Hosted by BBC Sports journalist Thomas Niblock, the evening began with a recognition and presentation of Blues' awards to 48 Queen's students who have excelled in their sports.

The first individual award of the night was the Inspirational Sporting Award in association with Queen's Widening Participation, awarded to Kaylem McShane (Basketball).

Next, the Community Impact Award in association with Vanrath was won by Queen’s Parkrun and presented by Ryan Feeney, VP for Strategic Engagement and External Affairs at Queen’s.

After some short interviews with EAP and Bursary Athletes, Interim Chair of the Blues Committee Ciaran Higgins introduced the first two of this year's special awards – the Deep RiverRock Hidden Hero Award and Deep RiverRock Coach of the Year. Catriona Edington won the Hidden Hero Award for Athletics and Equestrian, presented by SU President Emma Murphy.

Coach of the Year was won by Men’s Rugby Coach Derek Suffern.

The Men’s Hockey team was awarded the Deep RiverRock Sports Achievement Award which was presented by Karl Oakes, Head of Queen’s Sport and Physical Wellbeing.

The Deep RiverRock Individual Sports Achievement Award was awarded to Gymnast Ewan McAteer.

This year also saw the inaugural Hall of Fame to honour and celebrate the most distinguished sports men and women among Queen’s alumni in each decade, which will now be an integral part of the annual Blues Awards.

The first person to be recognised in The Hall of Fame dating back to the 50s was Jack Kyle, one of the greats of Irish rugby, who went on to work as a surgeon after completing his medical degree. The Belfast native was voted the greatest Irish player of all time by the IRFU in 2002 and has also been inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.

In the 60s, Gaelic footballer Sean O’Neill and winner of three All-Ireland titles along with silver Olympic medalist and world-record breaker for the high jump, Thelma Hopkins were honoured.

Billy McConnell, Olympian and one-time world record holder for hockey caps was honoured as the outstanding sportsperson in the 70s. More recently Billy has coached hockey at Queen's.

High Jumper, Janet Boyle, who received both a silver and bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games, as well as taking part in the Olympics, was the 80s Hall of Fame inductee.

Trevor Ringland and Thomas Niblock
Trevor Ringland and host Thomas Niblock

Rugby player Trevor Ringland, who played for Queen’s from 1978 to 1982 was honoured for his sporting career in the 80s, which included representing the British Lions in 1983 and 1986, Ireland from 1981 to 1988, and winning the Triple Crown in both 1982 and 1985. He also participated in the first Rugby World Cup in 1987 and made 31 competitive appearances for Ireland, scoring nine tries.

Three Queen’s alumni were honoured for the 1990s including Judo Commonwealth Games silver medalist Lisa Bradley, the first Irish person to climb Mount Everest, Dawson Stelfox, and Madeleine Perry who became a professional squash player in 1998. She holds 15 Irish national titles and reached a World ranking of number three.

Richard Archibald, current Director of Sport NI, took part in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics as a rower and also won the Silver medal in the 2005 World Championship and Bronze the following year. Richard graduated from Queen's having studied architecture.

Caroline OHanlon
Caroline O'Hanlon with host Thomas Niblock

The most recent sportsperson recognised was Caroline O’Hanlon for both netball and Ladies Gaelic football. Caroline studied Medicine at Queen’s and currently works as a GP.


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