Olympic star jumps into action to launch school sport day.
Two-time Olympic long jump star Chris Tomlinson helped to kick off the South Yorkshire Sainsbury’s School Games 2014 in Doncaster.
He joined more than 1,000 pupils from across Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster and Sheffield for the third annual summer finals event, held in the town for the first time.
World indoor silver medallist Tomlinson made a special guest appearance and inspirational speech at the opening ceremony at the Keepmoat Stadium, before declaring the Games open.
He was joined by top 20 world ranked freestyle footballer, John Patrick Acquaviva, who put on an exhilarating demonstration of skills.
Tomlinson, 33, said: “It’s fantastic to have the opportunity to inspire the children. I feel it’s really important that children have positive role models in life.
“The competitive side is important as well. Representing your school at something like this is a great opportunity, although it’s not all about the winning, it’s about trying your best and putting in 100 per cent.
“I find it really inspiring to see able bodied and disabled children working collaboratively and proving that anyone can do anything if you put your mind to it.”
Primary and secondary school pupils took part in qualifying rounds to secure a place at the all-day Doncaster event, which was supported by more than 100 volunteers including media students from Doncaster College.
Throughout the day, the children competed in athletics, netball, Tri Golf, tennis, orienteering and cricket at venues including the Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster Dome, Doncaster Cricket Club and Doncaster Tennis Club.
Callum Walton, 13, from Netherwood School, Barnsley, said: “We qualified to compete in the tennis finals. It’s the first time I’ve taken part and I’m a bit nervous and excited. The freestyle footballer was really good at the opening ceremony.”
Jessica Askwith, eight, from Beck Primary School, Sheffield, said: “This is the second year we have taken part in the tri-golf finals and we’re really excited. I really enjoyed the group warm up, it was good fun.”
Tamia Siddal, aged nine, from Laughton Junior and Infant School, Rotherham, qualified for the orienteering, she said: “It was great to get to the final. It’s a new venue and really big so we’re a bit nervous but we’ve got a really good team.”
Michael Evans, 10, from Kirk Sandall Junior School, in Doncaster, said: “We won the athletics last year and we’re hoping to win the orienteering event this year. It looks like a hard course through the woods but hopefully we can do well. I really enjoyed watching the freestyle footballer.”
The event also featured an inflatable campervan ‘cam tent’ run by Doncaster College to record highlights of the day and interviews with children about their experiences.
Simon Pugh, development manager at South Yorkshire Sport, which organises the Games, said: “The School Games aim to provide cultural activities, volunteering and officiating opportunities, as well as sport, for schools across South Yorkshire.
“All the children who took part behaved with an impeccable attitude and competed to the best of their ability. Sport is not all about the winning and it was great to see team work on display.
“We would like to congratulate all the winners and everyone who competed. We would also like to thank our sponsors, Xamax, the venues for hosting the summer finals and the army of volunteers who worked throughout the day – without them the event wouldn’t be possible.”