Swimmer Stephen is flame ambassador

COOKSTOWN’S award winning swimmer, Stephen Campbell has said he is looking forward to representing the district at the Paralympic Flame Lighting ceremony this weekend.

The 26-year-old who lost his sight at the age of 16, will join Council Chairperson, Tony Quinn of the SDLP, at Stormont on Saturday (August 25) along with other representatives ahead of the official 2012 games set to take place in London from August 29.

Stephen was chosen by Cookstown District Council as one of the area’s representatives due to his outstanding endurance, commitment and achievements in swimming.

In 2008 Stephen represented Ireland at the Paralympics in Beijing, and in October 2009 he broke three Irish swimming records at the International Paralympic Committee European Swimming Championships in Iceland.

In October 2009, he set three new Irish records at the International Paralympic Committee European Swimming Championships and broke two Irish records at the US Paralympics 2009 Swimming World Championships. In August 2007, Stephen won the Silver Medal in the final of the 200m individual medley at the International Blind Sports World Games in Brazil. The young Paralympian also picked up the University of Ulster President’s Plate for his achievements in sport.

Similar to the Olympic flame, the Paralympic torch will be carried through town centres and for a short distance outside the towns, with Stephen being the first runner.

“I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a great opportunity for me,” he said.

A Multimedia Computing and Design graduate from the University of Ulster’s Magee campus, Stephen began competing in high performance swimming at the age of 17, breaking two records when he competed in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics in the 100m Freestyle, 400m Freestyle and the 100m Butterfly races.

The Cookstown Flame Celebration will be held at Mid-Ulster Sports Arena on Saturday as part of the annual family fun day which takes place from 4pm to 7pm.