Richmond volleyball star Anna Keefe believes it was teamwork that won the day as she captained her side to glory at the 2016 School Games in Loughborough.
Keefe helped England Cadet to top the group without dropping a set before seeing off England Junior 25-17, 25-21 in the final on Sunday.
The School Games is a major multi-sport competition for school-age elite athletes and over the past four days around 1,600 of the nation’s finest young sports stars were competing across 12 current and future Olympic and Paralympic sports, seven of which included disability competition.
And 16-year-old Gumley House School pupil Keefe was particularly impressed by the consistency England Cadet showed throughout the competition.
“I am so happy because the whole team worked so hard for this and it was the result that we wanted,” said Keefe.
“We were really confident that we could win and I think that pushed us on to the victory.
“We have been really consistent as we didn’t drop a set throughout the whole competition and we have all grown together as a squad and really improved all the way to the final.
“It is a really nice atmosphere at the School Games and being in the athletes’ lounge is really fun.
“We finished third last year and the School Games has a really nice buzzing atmosphere and everyone really enjoys it.”
The School Games is supported by National Lottery with funding from Sport England and is delivered by the Youth Sport Trust.
With 15 of Team GB’s 67 medals at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games coming from School Games alumni, it has proven to be a great introduction to a multi-sport environment for the stars of the future.
Orleans Park School pupil Martha Bullen represented runners-up England Junior and the 16-year-old could not fault the effort her side put in during the final despite the defeat.
“We put in a really hard battle,” said Bullen, who is a team-mate of Keefe at Richmond Volleyball Club.
“We often have tough starts against tough opposition because while the atmosphere is amazing, we get a bit nervous and we expect a lot from ourselves.
“We left our all out there and in the second set in particular we gave them a really good fight and we couldn’t have put any more into it so I am happy.”
The 2016 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.The Games took place in Loughborough from 1-4 September 2016. Visit www.2016schoolgames.com for more information.