SPORTING stars and dignitaries turned out in force on Sunday night to pay tribute to Dame Mary Peters on the 40th anniversary of her gold medal victory.
Several of the best Olympic medallists in British history — including Steve Redgrave, Dame Kelly Holmes, Duncan Goodhew and Daley Thompson — flew in to attend the glittering Grand Opera House event.
Dame Mary, 73, who won gold in the Women’s Pentathlon in Munich in August 1972, said she was “overwhelmed” by the tribute.
Other sporting stars who turned out to pay tribute were Denise Lewis, Jayne Torvill, Adrian Moorhouse, David Hemery and Tessa Sanderson. The ex rugby star Jack Kyle and former Northern Ireland goalie Pat Jennings were also present.
During the evening Van Morrison, Paddy Kielty and Barry Douglas headlined a packed programme of entertainment for this unique black tie event.
Dame Mary seemed delighted at the various tributes, and touched by the occasion, which came hours after a plane was named in her honour.
The medallist was born in 1939 near Liverpool. Her father travelled to Northern Ireland every week for work and soon the family moved to live in County Armagh. Her athletic potential was spotted by the headmaster at Portadown College.
Dame Mary competed in three Olympic Games and five Commonwealth games, her first when she was 18 years old.