THE UK School Games have started with a bang - and there’s still a packed two days of sporting action to go as young athletes compete in a host of sports across Sheffield.
The games, which are happening at seven city venues, began with a spectacular opening ceremony at the Motorpoint Arena, in which 1,600 elite school-aged athletes paraded in front of spectators including Olympic and Paralympic stars, VIPs and families.
Alongside the parade and welcome speeches was an impressive urban gymnastic display by the Cirque Bijou group, as well as an exciting fireworks show and a breakdancing performance.
Gold-medal winning Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds - who took part in the school games herself in 2006 aged 11 - declared the games open by receiving a ceremonial flag from a team of relay runners.
Among the sports taking place today are athletics, in which youngsters will take part in track events as well as javelin, shot putt, discus and hammer.
Individual boys’ and girls’ table tennis is also on the programme for today and tomorrow, with swimming, hockey, wheelchair basketball and gymnastics planned too.
Cross-country cycling is on the timetable for tomorrow, as well as individual competition badminton.
As the results have rolled in, reigning girls hockey champions Ulster drew 3-3 with Scotland at Abbeydale Sports Ground, while England South recorded straight victories against Scotland and West Wales in volleyball at the English Institute of Sport in Attercliffe.
The games feature a programme of 12 sports this year, a record number for the competition, and athletes are staying in accommodation provided by Sheffield University.
The event replicates a major multi-sport contest like the Olympics or Paralympics - competitors even have to undergo simulation doping control.
More entertainment is in store for Sunday, when a closing ceremony will send the athletes home in style.