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Hunt and Coe join swimmers to unveil Olympic Park 2012 School Games finals

School children to compete in 2012 venues just two months before the Olympians and Paralympians

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

35,000 spectators to cheer on 1,600 young athletes competing in four Olympic venues

Hundreds of young athletes will have the opportunity to compete in four key 2012 Olympic venues, just two months before the world’s elite athletes, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said today as he set out plans for the finals of the 2012 School Games.

Speaking at the Aquatics Centre on the Olympic Park, Mr Hunt revealed details of the finals:

  • a competition to mirror the Olympic and Paralympic Games - complete with opening and closing ceremonies
  • around 1,600 of the nation’s finest young sports stars to compete
  • up to 35,000 spectators will cheer on the athletes
  • four Olympic venues will host the finals - the Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre, Velodrome and ExCeL Centre
  • the finals will take place from 6-9 May next year
  • around 2,000 hotel rooms near ExCeL to be used as an Athletes’ Village
  • approximately 700 coaches, support staff and volunteers will give round-the-clock support and advice - collectively committing more than 22,000 hours of their time

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 also revealed today that Prince Harry is a supporter of the School Games programme. He added:

“I am very pleased to report that Prince Harry is an ardent supporter of the School Games. He is 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”.

Richard Lewis, Chair of Sport England, said:

“Competing in the Olympic Park venues will be an awe-inspiring experience for these talented young people - especially when they consider that their sporting heroes will be following in their footsteps just a few weeks later. The 2012 School Games finals will be an extraordinary chapter of the legacy story, one that will, I’m sure, never be forgotten by the young competitors, volunteers and officials taking part.”

Baroness Sue Campbell, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said:

“This is a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the very best young sportspeople to have an unforgettable experience ahead of London 2012.  To compete in our finest venues in front of large crowds with the Olympic and Paralympic Games so close will be very special. For the young officials and volunteers it will also be a fantastic and memorable experience.”

Seb Coe, Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG), said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity for thousands of young people to be inspired by sport before the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games have begun. It will be great to see competitors and spectators enjoying the Olympic Park venues during the Schools Games and for generations to come.”

The 2012 School Games finals will be the last event to be held on the Olympic Park before the opening ceremony on 27 July. 

Competitions will be held in twelve current and future Olympic and Paralympic sports: fencing, rugby sevens, gymnastics, hockey, badminton, athletics, cycling, judo, swimming, table tennis, volleyball and wheelchair basketball.  A key principle of the School Games is that it has been designed for both able bodied and disabled young people.

The School Games is a new school sport competition, using the inspiration of London’s Olympics and Paralympics to help transform competitive sport in schools and get more people playing sport.  Open to all schools, there are three levels of competition (class versus class, school versus school and then county or city wide sports festivals) leading up to the showcase final on the Olympic Park. The School Games will continue after 2012 and the ambition is for the finals to be held in the Olympic Park at regular intervals. 

Mr Hunt also announced today that 7,700 schools have already registered for the competition and that schools have until the end of the year to get on board for 2012.

Sport England today confirmed that £4 million of National Lottery money and £2 million of Government funding has been allocated for the finals event and that it will be delivered by the Youth Sport Trust, with LOCOG and Fast Track.

Mr Hunt, along with LOCOG Chair Lord Coe and the Youth Sport Trust’s Baroness Sue Campbell, was at the 2012 Aquatic Centre today for a preview of next year’s action. They watched two of Team GB’s medal hopes - Liam Tancock and Hannah Miley - and Olympian Mark Foster - train with young swimmers from swimming clubs around East and South East England.

Tickets for the 2012 School Games finals will be available free of charge for family members and schools groups - giving young people from across the country the opportunity to be inspired by both the Olympic and Paralympic facilities, and the very best school age sporting talent.  Details of how schools can apply for tickets will be announced by the end of the year.

Published 20 May 2012