Rising Stars

A curriculum for developing athleticism for future success in all events
Athletics NI’s “Youth Academy” programme aims to nurture the development of promising young athletes as they negotiate their teenage years. It aims to assist selected athletes and their coaches by providing targeted support and mentoring as they progress along the path to success. The Youth Academy is a stepping stone towards international representation and sustained senior success.

The goals for the Youth Academy programme are to:

Ensure that athletes develop the required physical competences and fundamental movement skills to engage in senior performance training
Improve coaches’ understanding of physical preparation
Increase the retention of Northern Ireland’s best age group athletes into the Senior ranks
Increased representation on UK and Athletics Ireland U18, U20 and U23 teams
Develop young athletes with the aim of selection for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games team.
Support Youth Academy Coaches to progress on the coaching pathway by pursuing a full Athletics Coach Qualification (within 12 months of joining the programme) or advance their qualification and expertise further by completing an Event Group Qualification

Programme Features & Benefits

Athlete & Coach Views

What Athletes & Coaches have to say about Youth Academy


“I joined the Youth Academy programme in 2015. The Youth Academy sessions have helped me learn more about executing my drills, plyometrics and warm up correctly and the coaches helped my Dad (coach) to improve my event techniques.   Through Youth Academy I was also introduced to strength training in the gym this year which has helped me to progress.  I have learned technique for front squats, pull ups, step ups etc.  All of this helped me prepare for the European Youth Championships in Georgia this year were I was very happy to come 7th with 5559 points in my 2nd ever heptathlon.”


Kate O'Connor

European Youth Championships 2016-Heptathlon


“I have improved my UK ranking this year in the 110m Hurdles from 42nd to 5th and  feel the support I have received through the Youth Academy has helped me to  improve my athleticism and level of physical preparation.  The movement screening  at the beginning of the year helped me to identify my strengths & weakness and set  clear goals with my coach for my training programme.”

Ben Fisher

Youth Commonwealth Games Medallist

My son James (T20) has really benefited from the coaching he has received  from Youth Academy. The assessment of his running style and subsequent exercises tailored to improving his strength in certain areas has been very beneficial and resulted in improving his running times and ability to train with faster athletes. This improved consistency in James’ running resulted in selection for the GB team to the IPC European Athletics Championships in 2016 (1500m.)

Peter & Angela Hamilton


My son Garbhan qualified for the 110H m at the European Junior Championship in 2015. The lifestyle and injury prevention support he received through the Youth Academy has been invaluable in preparing him for his first international competition. Marian Mckenna


2015 Youth Academy Members

Athletes, Coaches and Clubs

Aaron Sexton (100m / 200m, Roger Sexton, North Down AC)

Andrew Barkley (Discus, Jackie McKernan, City of Lisburn)

Andrew Mellon (400m, Brendan McConville, North Down AC)

Anna McCauley (200m, Joanne Savage, City of Lisburn)

Ben Fisher (Long Jump / 110mH, Annie Rose, City of Lisburn)

Caitriona McGloin (3000m, Andrea Anderson, City of Lisburn)

Callum Crawford-Walker (800m, Mark Kirk, Lagan Valley)

Christian Robinson (100m / 200m, Annie Rose, City of Lisburn)

Christy Conlon (XC / 3000m, Michael Magee/John McInally, Beechmount)

Ciaran Barnes (400mH, Bill Kelly, City of Lisburn)

Craig Newell (200m, Ian Neely, Ballymena and Antrim)

Ellen McCartney (Pole Vault, Jim Alexander, City of Lisburn)

Garbhan McKenna (110mH, Tom Reynolds, Shercock AC)

Gareth Thompson (100m / 200m, Phill Snoddy, City of Lisburn)

Jack Agnew (T54 100m – 1500m, Heather Ardis, Torque Racing Club)

Jack Magee (Javelin, Laura Kerr, Ballymena and Antrim)

Jake Harbinson (800m, Andrea Anderson, City of Lisburn)

Kate O’Connor (Heptathlon / Javelin, Michael O’Connor & Francis O’Hagen, Newry AC)

Lauren Roy (100m / 200m, Paul Strange, Ballymena and Antrim)

Mark Burton (Triple Jump) Triple Jump Alan Kennedy City of Lisburn)

Matthew Dalton Discus Jackie McKernan City of Lisburn)

Megan Marrs 100mH / 100m Tom Reynolds City of Lisburn)

Michael Gaffney (Javelin, Laura Kerr, N/A )

Namphon Steele T47 100m / 200m John Glover Lagan Valley)

Naomi Morgan (Heptathlon) Heptathlon Tom Reynolds City of Derry)

Oisín O’Callaghan (800m) 800m Eugene O’Callaghan Newry AC)

Olivia Nelson (1500m) 1500m Andrea Anderson City of Lisburn)

Robbie Marrs High Jump Wendy Phillips City of Lisburn)

Robert Moffett (Hammer, Gareth Moffett, Ballymena and Antrim)

Roseanna McGuckian  (100m / 200m, Phill Snoddy, City of Lisburn)

Shane Martin (Pole Vault, Jim Alexander, Ballymena and Antrim)

Stephen McCorry (Hammer, Gareth Moffett, Ballymena and Antrim)

Thomas Hunter (Triple Jump, N/A, Ballymena and Antrim)

Lydia Mills (Long Jump, Sean McMahon, Ballymena and Antrim)

Becoming a Student Athlete

On Tuesday 3 November 2015, Youth Academy athletes, their parents and coaches were invited to an evening to provide guidance on becoming a student athlete. The slides from the evening planned by Laura Kerr & Tom Reynolds can be found below DOWNLOAD "Becoming a...

Physical Competency Screening

Introduction In 2014/2015 Athletics Northern Ireland began trialling physical competence screenings with Youth Academy Athletes. Following the success of the trial these physical competency screenings are now a standard option available to all athletes selected for...

Frequently Asked Questions

How are athletes selected for Youth Academy?

To be selected for Youth Academy athletes must meet the required selection standards.

These standards are available HERE.