Cream of youth in sporting bonanza

Table Tennis player Eric Wan at Abbeydale Sports Centre, Sheffield
Table Tennis player Eric Wan at Abbeydale Sports Centre, Sheffield

Sheffield gets a glimpse of the future when it plays host to a ‘Mini Olympics’ over the next four days.

A cast of 1,600 of the UK’s elite young athletes will be going for glory at the Sainsbury’s UK School Games at venues across the city.

Ten youngsters from the Sheffield area are among the creme de la creme who will compete across 12 sports in a sporting bonanza, the likes of which has not been seen since the World Student Games 20 years ago.

City swimmers have the strongest presence with Andrew Gould, Richard Lee and Tegan Turner-Clarke, all aged 16, taking to the pool at Ponds Forge for a 10am start on Saturday.

Natalie Chan-Lam will be competing in the badminton events, while her fellow Sheffield High School team-mate Natalia Hackett is involved in the athletics along with Adam Khan.

Eric Wan has been playing table tennis for five years and this year will be his third UK School Games while fencer Joe Littler, aged 18, will be looking to impress at the English Institute of Sport.

Two new sports, wheelchair basketball and rugby sevens, appear in the programme of events. Talented Jack Waring (16) of the Sheffield Steelers Wheelchair Basketball Club will be taking part in the new disability sport which makes up part of the most inclusive Games ever. Hannah Saville, aged 13, will be heading to Wharncliffe and Wheata Woods for the cycling events which sees mountain biking make its Games debut.

In addition to the competitive disability sports featured in this year’s Games there will also be a number of demonstration events. Visually impaired displays in both judo (1pm-2pm) and adrenaline fuelled mountain biking (2pm-3pm) will take place tomorrow while Sunday will see on-court demonstrations in sitting volleyball (11.30-1pm) with GB players and coaches providing commentary to highlight the level of skill and challenge involved in this form of the sport. Councillor Helen Mirfin-Boukouris, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Business, Jobs and Growth, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many of our region’s exceptional young athletes representing our city as we host this year’s UK School Games. I’m sure the whole of Sheffield will be behind them as they take on some of the UK’s most talented young athletes. I wish all 10 the best of luck.”

The Motorpoint Arena stages the Opening Ceremony tonight (8.30pm) with the closing ceremony on Sunday at 4pm.

n Visit www.ukschoolgames.com.