NORTHERN Irish athletes excelling as part of Team GB will strengthen the argument to make the national team’s name more inclusive, a DUP MP has said.
Former sports minister Gregory Campbell has been passionate for over five years about getting the name Team GB changed to Team UK to include the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man as well as Northern Ireland.
The full name is Team Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but this is usually shortened to Team GB.
Mr Campbell said it was important that Northern Ireland be properly acknowledged and included in the team name.
“If, as we all hope, there are a number of athletes from outside the geographical limit of GB who are going to do extremely well, like if the rowers from Coleraine win medals as they are tipped to, it should hopefully add pressure to the campaign to change the team name,” he said.
“It used to always be Team GB and NI, but it tends to get shortened to simply Team GB. Alternatively Team UK is much snappier.
“Hopefully it would even help some of the athletes who compete for Team Ireland. Some, because of how their sporting bodies are set up, have little option. Hopefully this name change would help them to be able to compete for Team GB too.”
However, Mr Campbell ruled out the possibility of having a Team Northern Ireland to compete at the Olympic Games.
“It works for the Commonwealth Games but I can’t see it working for the Olympic Games. You do not tend to get teams for regions at the Olympic Games.”
Last year, Mr Campbell, along with his DUP colleague Nelson McCausland, lobbied the British Olympic Association to have the team name changed from GB to UK.
At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Co Londonderry cyclist Wendy Houvenaghel won a silver medal in the 3km pursuit. She is also competing in London and ranked among medal hopefuls along with Coleraine rowers Alan Campbell as well as brothers Peter and Richard Chambers.
There are also high hopes for Belfast boxer Paddy Barnes who is competing for the Irish Olympic team.
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