Sainsbury's 2015 School Games kick off in Manchester
An opening ceremony featuring world champions and Olympic and Paralympic heroes will welcome the 1,600 athletes, 500 volunteers and young coaches to the Sainsbury's 2015 School Games in Manchester on Thursday night.
From 3-6 September 1,600 athletes will compete in 12 sports in venues across Manchester for the Sainsbury's 2015 School Games, which are supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust.
The opening ceremony, attended by all the athletes and thousands of spectators and hosted at the Manchester Arena, will be presented by young people and included performances by Salford Music and Performing Arts Service steel band and the inspirational choir Voice in a Million, a parade of athletes, a pyrotechnic display and the official oaths. School Games alumni Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty will officially declare the Games open.
More than 15,000 spectators are expected at the event this year which is supported by more than 500 volunteers, many of which are young people who will provide round the clock support to the athletes, coaches, officials and spectators.
The Games have been a launch pad for many elite athletes. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, 150 of the competitors previously took part in the Sainsbury's School Games. Also attending the opening ceremony are Paralympic gold medallists Jonnie Peacock, Hannah Cockroft and Ellie Simmonds, who have all previously competed at the event, which this year includes seven disability sports.
Dina Asher-Smith, who won gold in the 200m at the Sainsbury's 2012 School Games, has just returned from the IAAF World Championships in Beijing where she landed a second British record of the season, securing 22.07 in the 200m final. Triple world swimming champion Adam Peaty, who took the World Championship titles in the relay, 50m and 100m breaststroke in Kazan last month, will speak to the crowd of his memories of representing England Central at two School Games in 2010 and 2011.
Dina said: "It is an absolute privilege to be able to declare the Games open this year. When I competed in 2012 I learnt many valuable lessons about what it is like to compete at a major multi-sport event and that really helped me in my career. Hopefully some stars of the future will be unearthed over the next few days."
Adam said: "The Sainsbury's School Games are a fantastic event, providing athletes with real major games experience. I feel very honoured to return tonight as world champion, and it has been a fantastic opportunity to thank the hundreds of volunteers and young coaches supporting today's athletes behind the scenes. They are the unsung heroes of sport."
Youth Sport Trust Chief Executive Ali Oliver said: "The Sainsbury's School Games has a fantastic track record of developing sporting stars of the future. It has been a real honour welcoming Dina back as the fast British woman in history, just three years after she struck gold at the School Games, while as the first Briton to take three golds at the World Swimming Championships, Adam is a great ambassador for the legacy of this event.
"They have both provided this year's competitors with real inspiration as to what they too can achieve with hard work and commitment."
Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said: "The Sainsbury's 2015 School Games, backed with government funding, are helping to instil a passion for competitive sport in young people. Some of Britain's biggest sport stars have competed in past Games and are inspiring many to follow in their footsteps. I know Manchester will host a fantastic event with all the competitors getting great support."
Sport England Director of Community Sport, Mike Diaper said, "National Lottery funding is providing a fantastic opportunity for talented young athletes to experience what it's like to be part of a major sporting event. We are also proud that almost 20,000 schools across England are now part of the wider School Games programme. Coming into the Sainsbury's 2015 School Games, each athlete has already shown determination, discipline and courage, and regardless of the result will leave with a sporting habit for life."