Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty open the Sainsbury's 2015 School Games
The Sainsbury's 2015 School Games kicked off in style last night with a spectacular Opening Ceremony at the Manchester Arena.
The young athletes, who will be competing across 12 sports over the next three days, were paraded through the arena before a host of entertainment wowed the crowd.
The Wire Gymnastics Club from Warrington, the Queen Elizabeth Academy Dance Group and singer Holly Fallon were just a few of the performers on display, while the Voice in a Million choir made sure to get the crowd involved with a rousing rendition of 'Superheroes' by the Script.
In addition to the UK pupils, there were also international contingents from Brazil, Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos Islands as the Sainsbury's 2015 School Games, supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust, promises to be a tightly contested affair.
Of the 61 athletes representing Great Britain at the 2015 World Athletics Championships last month, 17 were School Games alumni and one of those, Dina Asher-Smith, was on hand to officially declare the Sainsbury's 2015 School Games open alongside triple world swimming champion Adam Peaty.
Dina, who is the fastest woman in British history over both 100m and 200m and competed at the 2012 edition of the event, also joined Olympic gold medallist Jason Gardener to give a sprinting masterclass on Thursday morning.
"When I competed at the Sainsbury's School Games, I remember making loads and loads of friends from all the different sports," she said.
"We met gymnasts, people who did table tennis, cyclists - it was so much fun.
"It's the closest thing we get on home soil to mimicking an Olympic Games and it's a great opportunity for the athletes to experience the multi-sport environment and high-quality competition."
The Sainsbury's 2015 School Games is supported by a range of partners including the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Sport England, Youth Sport Trust, Department of Health and British Paralympic Association.
In total, 1,600 athletes will strut their stuff in Manchester this weekend, with some already in action on Thursday as both the boys and girls hockey group games got underway at The Armitage Sports Centre.
It was England White and England Blue who set the tone for the girls with 4-1 and 3-0 wins over Wales and England Red respectively.
Meanwhile in the boys' pool games, England Blue edged an entertaining match against England Red 6-4 and reigning champions England White showed they have no intention of relinquishing their title as they defeated Wales 2-0.
"As any team in any tournament you want to get off to a cracking start," said England White captain, and scorer of the second goal, Alex Kingston.
"And with a win like that, with the confidence we had in the second half, we have learnt our lessons and we're going strong into our next match.
"We want the gold medal. We've done lots of training and selections to get picked, it's been a year-long process to get up to it and being here now taking part in this event is great."