Local athletes are set to compete in the Olympic Park over the next few days as part of the inaugural Sainsburys 2012 School Games, a multi sport event for the UK’s elite young aspiring athletes.
197 pupils from across the province will compete in the Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre, Velodrome and ExCeL Centre as well as other venues from 6th – 9th May to build on the excitement and inspirations of the 2012 Games.
From 6th to 9th May, 1600 athletes, 400 volunteers and 30,000 spectators will gather in London for the 2012 School Games; enabling high-level competition in world-class facilities and providing an experience which the 257 strong team from Northern Ireland is very much looking forward to.
Paralympics Athletics starlet Sally Brown from Ballykelly is set to compete in the Games and the Paralympic World Cup medallist will be using the venue to gain more experience ahead of hopefully competing in the Paralympics in London later this summer. Graham Moffett, Athletics Team Manager had this to say of the event,
“The Olympics has come early for the Northern Ireland School’s athletics’ team. The athletes have an ever present infectious glowing smile, maintained by the joy and excitement of their looking forward to competing in the UK Games, in the Olympic Stadium. They are really looking forward to competing next week in the Olympic Stadium where the athletics stars of the world will compete in a few weeks time.”
Athletics, Cycling and Swimming will take place within the Olympic Park on Wednesday 9th May in the Olympic Stadium, Velodrome and Aquatic Centre respectively. While Wheelchair Basketball will take place in the Excel Centre on Monday 7th and Tuesday 8th May.
Aubrey Bingham Disability Sports NI Development Officer and Northern Ireland Wheelchair Basketball Team Manager commented on the event,
“The NI Wheelchair Basketball Team are thrilled to have the chance to compete and show off their skills at the UKSG, and with it being held at the 2012 Olympic sites, this certainly creates added excitement. Disability Sports NI hopes that more athletes with disabilities will be given the opportunity to compete at this prestigious UK sporting event in future years”
The School Games is supported by a range of partners including the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Youth Sport Trust, Sport England, Department of Health, ParalympicsGB, Sport Scotland and Sport Wales and The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure through Sport Northern Ireland.
The Minister for Sport in the north of Ireland, Carál Ní Chuilín said:
“This is a unique opportunity to sample the atmosphere and compete in the Olympic Park. Taking part in all types of sport is hugely beneficial – I hope this experience will inspire some of our budding young athletes to become Olympians and Paralympians of the future”
Chair of Sport Northern Ireland Dominic Walsh commented,
“I have every confidence that, for some, the School Games will provide a pathway to a career as a high performance athlete. For others, they may prove to be the peak of their athletic achievements. But of most importance, I trust that this experience will inspire life-long involvement and enjoyment in sport for all those who take part; a legacy that we can truly be proud of.”
It will be the last event to be held on the Olympic Park before the opening ceremony on 27 July.