National Teams

Sainsbury’s UK School Games Opens With a Bang

The Gateshead International Stadium played host to this evening’s spectacular Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Sainsbury’s UK School Games which is being held in Gateshead, Newcastle and Sunderland until Sunday.

The event was a fantastic entertainment show which showcased North East England. The opening ceremony was part of the UK School Games cultural and educational programme and had 1,600 elite school aged athletes in attendance, parading in front of the assembled VIP’s and public.

Alongside the athlete parade was a spectacular light and video show which has been created by United Visual Artists, and their award winning composer Mira Calix. The ceremony was hosted by BBC Sport presenter Jill Douglas who was joined on stage by Olympic athletes Amy Williams who officially opened the 2010 games. Also in the audience was former Olympic medalists Darren Campbell, Gail Emms and Jason Gardener.

Amy Williams said: “The opening ceremony of the Sainsbury’s UK School Games will have been a great moment for these young athletes, the moment they walked out in the parade will have made them realise how much they want to succeed. These athletes are our future aspiring athletes and potentially our future Olympians and this event is an amazing opportunity for these young athletes to compete on a much bigger scale than some of them are used to.”

Williams , who won gold in the women’s bob skeleton in the Vancouver Olympics earlier this year, continued: “The multi-sport element is something most competing athletes will be experiencing for the first time, there are a lot of distractions and the pressure may also be higher at this kind of event. However, it’s a chance to learn and no doubt they will take a lot away from this fantastic competition. There was nothing like this when I was young, my first event was the World Championships and I just had to learn on the spot, so this is a great opportunity for gaining advice and experience.”

There are 10 sports involved in the Games again this year, with track cycling being replaced by criterium and road cycling, alongside the existing programme of athletics, badminton, fencing, gymnastics, hockey, judo, swimming, table tennis and volleyball. There are also disability events in swimming, athletics and table tennis.

The Games which run until Sunday 5 September and will feature a packed four-day programme of ten sports taking place at some of the region’s premier venues, as well as opening and closing ceremonies, an athletes’ village, simulation doping control and elite athlete role models, the Sainsbury’s UK School Games replicate a major sporting event such as the Commonwealth Games.

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