Richmond’s young gearing up to beat 32 boroughs in London Youth Games


Last June, Richmond won the competition for the first time in its 35 year history.


By Emily Ansell

Richmond’s young people are gearing up to beat off competition from 32 other boroughs in The London Youth Games this month.

The largest youth sports event in Europe, last year’s games saw 71,000 young Londoners, aged seven to 17, competing in 30 sports.

Last June, Richmond won the competition for the first time in its 35 year history.

Young athletes, under 13 years old, will compete in the cross country championship at Parliament Hill, on 19th November.

As the first event of the 2011-12 calendar, the championship is the start of Team Richmond’s quest to keep hold of the Jubilee trophy. 

Richmond Borough Team Organiser, Elaine Cahill, said: “We won the cross country last year and are hoping to do the same this time.”

Cross country was re-introduced to last season’s competition as a response to the demands of the London Olympic Games year and drew in 700 competitors. 

Russell Findlay, London Youth Games’ Chief Executive, said: “As we get closer to London 2012, the big response to the re-introduction of cross country demonstrates the hunger for competitive sport among young people.”

This season, the Youth Games are running at the same time and in the same city as the Olympics. This is expected to further encourage an interest in sport among the young.

Ms Cahill said: “We are trying to promote the games more within the borough to get more young people involved in sport especially in the Olympic year.

“Hopefully the Olympics will bring them in. More and more are getting interested in sport.”

Ms Cahill is confident that, although the Olympics will raise the profile of the youth event, her team do not need to change their game plan.

“Everything worked out so well for us in 2011 so hopefully it will work out just as well in the 2012 games and we can retain the title of Champions again,” she added.

Ms Cahill hopes people in the area will come to encourage Team Richmond’s cross country participants and help them repeat last season’s victory where they beat 28 other boroughs.

She said: “Anyone can turn up to support and we often have plenty of parents coming to cheer on their sons and daughters.”

Cllr Pamela Fleming, Cabinet Member for Communities on Richmond Council, says Richmond is one of the strongest boroughs in the whole competition. 

She said: “We have a borough of sportspeople, with some of the highest participation rates in the country and I’m sure there are many who have the potential to help us win again in the year of the Olympics.”

Team Richmond previously competed with a record number of participants achieving gold medals in various sports, including cross country.

Cllr Fleming said the borough will fight to remain overall winners: “Team Richmond had a phenomenal result this summer and this first event marks the campaign to retain the title. I wish all the young people the best of luck.”

The cross country championship takes place 19th November at Parliament Hill from 11am. The medal ceremony is scheduled for 1.30pm.

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