Olympic greats Denise Lewis, Darren Campbell, Jason Gardener and Gail Emms along with Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Simmonds are among the star names that will be supporting the Sainsbury's 2012 School Games finals that take place in May.
Backed by National Lottery funding from Sport England, the Sainsbury's 2012 School Games is a multi-sport event for school-aged elite athletes that will take place from 6-9May 2012. 1,600 young people will compete across 12 sports, six of which include disability competition. For this, its inaugural year, the Olympic Stadium, Velodrome, Aquatics Centre and ExCel Centre in London will be among the venues hosting competitions.
Today, Denise Lewis, Ellie Simmonds, Darren Campbell and Jason Gardener attended a special reception at Downing Street to showcase the Sainsbury's 2012 School Games. They were joined by 12 young badminton and table tennis players who are due to compete in the competition in just a few weeks time.
Some of the sporting ambassadors will be joined at the event in May by a team of athlete mentors who have achieved success in a range of sports, and will be supporting the young athletes during the games to understand how they can best deal with being at a major multi sport event. Sainsbury's Active Kids Ambassador David Beckham is also expected to record a video message in support of those taking part.
Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt said:"The School Games Ambassadors are a hugely talented group of people with an amazing range of sporting achievements between them. They really are inspiring role models for all the children competing."
Olympic heptathlon champion, Denise Lewis, said:"I believe the Sainsbury's 2012 School Games will provide the young competitors with a fantastic opportunity to taste what it is like to compete at the highest level at a multi sport event. Competing in some of the Olympic venues before London 2012 is something most young people can only dream of."
Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games gold medallist, Ellie Simmonds, said: "I'm very proud to be an ambassador for Sainsbury's Active Kids which is all about inspiration, inclusivity and encouraging young people of all ages and abilities to try sports and really pleased that Sainsbury's are sponsoring the 2012 School Games."
Olympic gold medallist sprinter, Darren Campbell, added:"At any major sporting event there will be a whole range of experiences that can both boost your performance, but also distract you from performing at your best. The Sainsbury's 2012 School Games gives these young people a chance to understand the pressures and expectations of elite sport which can only benefit them in the future."
Olympic sprint champion Jason Gardener, said: "Some of the young people who are going to compete at the Games will perform at their best and some will set personal or championship records. Others may be disappointed by their performances. The important thing is that all the young people who take part can learn from their experiences."
More than 35,000 spectators are expected at the event with young people from schools across the country heading to London to watch the action. The sports included in the Sainsbury's 2012 School Games are athletics, badminton, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, hockey, judo, rugby 7's, swimming, table tennis, volleyball and wheelchair basketball. There will also be demonstration events in disability judo, gymnastics display and sitting volleyball.
Nearly 20 athlete mentors will be giving advice and encouragement at the Sainsbury's 2012 School Games and some have recorded a video of encouragement that can be seen herewww.facebook.com/schoolgamesevent
The Sainsbury's 2012 School Games finals event in May is one element of the wider year round School Games initiative. More than 12,000 schools have signed up to take part in local class versus class and school versus school competitions along with county wide sports festivals.
The 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, Paralympics GB Sport Wales, Sport Scotland and Sport Northern Ireland.
To find out more about the Sainsbury's 2012 School Games visit:www.2012schoolgames.com.