Let the Games begin

Hundreds of the UK's best school age athletes are gearing up to compete in the Sainsbury's 2012 School Games, a major multi-sport event for young people.

1,600 competitors - 12 sports - 700 volunteers and support staff - competition in 4 Olympic venues

Hundreds of the UK's best school age athletes are gearing up to compete in the Sainsbury's 2012 School Games, a major multi-sport event for young people, that takes place just weeks before the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Backed by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust, the Sainsbury's 2012 School Games is a multi-sport event for 1,600 elite young athletes.  The Games take place from 6-9 May 2012 with the Olympic Stadium, Velodrome and Aquatics Centre at the Olympic Park hosting competition on 9 May.

The closing ceremony on 9 May will take place at the Basketball Arena at the Olympic Park and will mark the end of the spectacular Sainsbury's 2012 School Games.  Chart toppers Cover Drive and gymnastic troupe Spelbound are among those set to perform.

On 7-8 May competition will run across nine other sports in London venues. Badminton, fencing, gymnastics, judo, table tennis, volleyball and wheelchair basketball will take place at ExCeL London (also an Olympic venue), whilst rugby 7s will be held at Barking Rugby Club, hockey will take place at Old Loughtonians and Redbridge Cycle Centre will host road cycling.  Six sports at the Sainsbury's 2012 School Games have disability competition.  On 6 May, the competitors will meet for a welcome dinner at ExCeL London.

Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt said: "All the young people competing in the School Games Finals over the coming days have worked incredibly hard to get here.  I congratulate them all in getting this far and wish them the best of luck. I hope they have a fantastic time and leave with some great memories."

Jennie Price, Sport England's Chief Executive, said: "This year we have the chance to use the inspiration of a home Games to create a sporting habit for life in the next generation.  The Sainsbury's School Games and the Lottery funding provided by Sport England will give 1,600 young people the opportunity to be part of an extraordinary chapter of the legacy story."

John Steele, Chief Executive Officer of the Youth Sport Trust, said: "The Sainsbury's 2012 School Games is a very special sporting occasion for young people in this incredible year for British sport.  We hope that all those taking part in the Games will come away from the event with memories that will last with them forever."

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: "I'm greatly looking forward to the School Games and I'm sure that the young athletes are excited to be competing in the Olympic Park. I hope this year's summer of sport will inspire all of us to play more sport and be more active as it's so important for our health. The school games alongside the Change4Life School Sport Clubs are a really important part of our programme of encouraging young people to get involved and get active."

Justin King, Chief Executive Officer of Sainsbury's, said: "The Sainsbury's 2012 School Games is an exciting opportunity for young athletes from around the country to experience competing in Olympic venues two months before the London 2012 Olympic Games.  By showcasing the sporting talent of future champions, the games will also inspire spectators, young and old alike.

"By 2020, we'll have encouraged over 20 million children to enjoy physical activity and along with our Active Kids scheme, the Sainsbury's 2012 School Games is an example of our commitment to helping young people live healthier and more active lifestyles, regardless of age and ability."

The Sainsbury's 2012 School Games will be supported by up to 700 officials, volunteers and support staff, the majority of which will be young people who will play key roles in the event.

Olympic greats Denise Lewis, Darren Campbell, Jason Gardener and Gail Emms along with Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Simmonds are among the star names that are backing the Games.  Sainsbury's Active Kids Ambassador David Beckham is also expected to record a video message of support which will be shown at the closing ceremony.

During the Games the 100% ME UK Anti Doping education programme will be working with some of the competitors and the Wellcome Trust will be at the Olympic Park to demonstrate its In the Zone sports science experience.

The Sainsbury's 2012 School Games finals event in May is one part of the wider year round School Games initiative, which uses the inspiration of London's Olympics and Paralympics to transform competitive sport in schools and get more people playing sport.  Thousands of schools across the country have signed up to take part in local class versus class and school versus school competitions along with county wide sports festivals.

The Sainsbury's 2012 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, ParalympicsGB Sport Wales, Sport Scotland and Sport Northern Ireland.

Over £128m of Lottery and Government funding is being invested to support the School Games over the next 3 years.

To find out more about the Sainsbury's 2012 School Games visit:www.2012schoolgames.com.

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