London 2012: Olympic Park to host School Games

Before top athletes get to try out the Olympic venues next summer, hundreds of school children will have got there first

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Nearly 2,000 schoolchildren will get the chance to compete in four main Olympic venues before the Games start, in the finals of the 2012 School Games.

Around 1,600 young sportsmen and women will take part in 12 different sports in the Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre, Velodrome and ExCeL Centre.

The event, from 6 to 9 May next year, will aim to mirror the Olympics and Paralympics and 35,000 fans will watch.

An athletes village will be set up and 700 coaches and staff will be on hand.

The 12 current and future Olympic and Paralympic sports in the School Games are athletics, swimming, cycling, fencing, rugby sevens, gymnastics, hockey, badminton, judo, table tennis, volleyball and wheelchair basketball.

The event, which is a new school sport competition, has been designed so that both able-bodied and disabled young people can take part.

Any school can enter the Games, which feature three levels of competition - class v class, school v school and county or city-wide sports festivals.

The Games will continue after 2012 with the ambition of competing at the Olympic Park at regular intervals.

London 2012 - Begin your journey here

London view

Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt said: "The School Games will be a real sporting legacy for young people from London's Olympics.

"The competition will use the inspiration of 2012 to transform competitive sport in schools and get more young people playing sport, long after next summer.

"The 2012 School Games finals will be the largest ever event of its kind in the UK. It will be an unprecedented opportunity for our young athletes to run on the Olympic track before Usain Bolt, cut through the pool before Michael Phelps, and feel the speed of the Velodrome before Victoria Pendleton."

Mr Hunt said that Prince Harry would be involved in the event as he was "an ardent supporter" of the School Games.

The prince was "passionate about giving young people of all abilities the chance to be involved in competitive sport. And, as a keen sportsman himself, he will be following the progress of the School Games competitors over the coming months," he said.

He added that 7,700 schools have already registered and that the deadline for applications is the end of the year.

Legacy

The event is backed by £4m of National Lottery money and £2m of government funding while free tickets will be available for family members and schools groups.

The Velodrome at Olympic Park The Velodrome is one of the four venues where the schoolchildren will compete

Doubts have previously been expressed over whether the promised sporting legacy for the UK would be achieved from hosting the Olympics.

In September, British Olympic Association Chairman Lord Moynihan warned that the country was "a long way from delivering a step change in sport".

"I want to see the bricks and mortar that will be the lasting sports legacy. More pitches, changing rooms and playing fields not being sold off," he said.

The School Games will overlap with the British Universities Championships, the first test event inside the Olympic Stadium, which take place from 4 to 7 May while the following day the venue hosts the London Disability Grand Prix.

However there will not be a clash of events inside the Stadium as the athletics competition in the School Games does not take place until 9 May.

The very first sporting event in the stadium will be a public five mile run on 31 March 2012.

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