An opening ceremony with stunning singing and dancing performances, a parade of athletes, a pyrotechnic display and the official oaths, has got the Sainsbury's 2014 School Games underway in Manchester.
The Sainsbury's 2014 School Games, which are supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust, are a major multi-sport event for some of the most talented young athletes across the UK.
From 4-7 September 1,600 athletes will compete in 12 sports in venues across Manchester and will experience a spectacular opening and closing ceremony, an athletes' village, and a targeted education programme which includes anti-doping advice and guidance.
The opening ceremony, attended by all the athletes and thousands of spectators at the Phones 4 U Arena, was presented by young people. Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Simmonds took to the stage with the official Sainsbury's School Games baton and Great Britain heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson officially declared the Games open.
More than 10,000 spectators are expected at the event this year which is supported by more than 400 volunteers, many of which are young people that will provide round the clock support to the athletes, coaches, officials and spectators.
The Games have been a launch pad for many elite athletes. 150 of the competitors at the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow had taken part in the Sainsbury's School Games previously. Paralympic gold medallists Jonnie Peacock, Hannah Cockroft and Ellie Simmonds have also competed at the event.
Great Britain heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who won gold in the high jump at the Sainsbury's School Games in 2008, said:
"It is an absolute privilege to be able to declare the Games open this year. When I competed in the event in 2008 I learnt many valuable lessons about what it is like to compete at a major multi-sport event and it has really helped me in my career. Hopefully some more stars of the future will be unearthed over the next few days."
John Steele, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said:
"The Sainsbury's School Games has a fantastic track record of developing sporting stars of the future. Earlier this summer we saw more than 150 former competitors of the Games compete at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, demonstrating what a successful launch pad this event has become."
Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid said:
"Manchester is a city passionate about sport and is the perfect setting for this year's Sainsbury's 2014 School Games - giving our talented young athletes the chance to experience competing in a major multi-sport event.
"Sport can have a really positive impact on young people's lives - improving health, boosting confidence and encouraging team work. The Sainsbury's School Games is at the heart of the Government's approach to getting young people participating. Good luck to all those taking part in what I am sure will be a memorable competition with fantastic sporting moments."
Jennie Price, Chief Executive of Sport England, said:
"The Games are a great opportunity for both athletes and volunteers to get first-hand experience of what it's like to be part of a major sporting event. Sport England is proud to be supporting the School Games and I wish all the athletes taking part the best of luck and hope the experience inspires them to pursue their sporting dreams."
The Sainsbury's 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.