Games are spectacular winner for Suffolk
YOUTH GAMES: The third Suffolk Youth Games, the county's biggest-ever multi-sport event for young people, were a huge success.Over 800 whose ages ranged from nine to 16 took part, watched by hundreds of supporters, as hosts St Edmundsbury triumphed.
THE third Suffolk Youth Games, the county's biggest-ever multi-sport event for young people, were a huge success.
Over 800 whose ages ranged from nine to 16 took part, watched by hundreds of supporters, as hosts St Edmundsbury triumphed.
A host of sporting champions were also in attendance, including Olympic representatives Karen Pickering MBE, athletes Paul Evans and Jo Jennings, and Paralympic sailor and gold medallist Kevin Curtis.
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Many other Suffolk-based sporting stars were also there to watch the talented young sportsmen and women compete throughout the day.
A total of 36 Youth Games are taking place this summer throughout the country as the culmination of many weeks of quality coaching and preparation.
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This was the first time the Games had been hosted by St Edmundsbury Borough Council and they were again sponsored by BTexact Technologies, BT's advanced communication technologies business whose world headquarters are located at Adastral Park, Martlesham, near Ipswich.
The presence of private sector sponsorship also meant that government-sponsored Sportsmatch funding could be accessed.
Kevin Wray, senior development manager for Sport England East, attended the Games and offered his congratulations, not only to those who competed but those who made the event possible.
He said: "It was an event that clearly showed that everyone involved in sport is a winner.
"The Suffolk Youth Games are part of an exciting Sport England Active Sports seven-year programme that will be delivered by the Suffolk Sports Partnership to develop quality sporting opportunities for young people right across Suffolk.
"This includes developing coaches, officials, volunteers and clubs. With over £1 million from Sport England Lottery Fund alongside funding and resources from the Suffolk Sports Partnership all working towards this aim, sport in Suffolk has an exciting future."
Terry McEntee, Suffolk's active sports manager, said: "Although the funding is essential, the Games would not be possible without the large numbers of volunteers.
"They give freely of their time as coaches, officials, team mangers and event organisers, and to those people we are most grateful."
Teams from the county's seven local authorities compete against each other in eight different sports – athletics, basketball, hockey, girls' football, netball, rugby union, swimming and tennis.
Athletics and swimming include events for young disabled people, while badminton, cricket and cycling were also included this year as demonstration events.
There was even an opening ceremony mirroring the familiar format used at Olympic and Commonwealth Games, with every competitor marching on to the athletics track behind their team's banner.
This was followed by a mass warm-up before the Games were officially declared open and competitions began, then the event also finished with a closing ceremony and the overall presentation.
A high point for many was the presence of the Games' chief patron, Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks, who assisted with presentations for individual sports throughout the afternoon.
He also mingled freely with competitors, volunteers and spectators, answering many questions about the prospects for the coming season.
Each year, the Games have grown in size both in the number of teams entered and the number of competitors overall.
Mr McEntee explained: "The main aims of the Games are to improve sporting opportunities for all young people, particularly those not currently involved in club sport, and to promote fair play and enjoyment of sport."
He also went on to emphasise the role of sport in personal development and quality of life in the community.
"As well as giving young people the chance to improve their sporting skills, the Youth Games provides them with the opportunity to make new friends, foster community pride and learn about developing a healthy lifestyle."
While hosts St Edmundsbury, who also won the athletics event, were the overall winners, Babergh were runners-up as well as finishing joint winners with Mid Suffolk of the tag rugby competition.
Last year's winners, Ipswich, had to be content with third place overall, although they came out on top in the netball.
Waveney won the most individual events, taking gold medals in girls' football, girls' hockey and swimming, but overall they were fourth.
Forest Heath were the strongest at basketball, winning both the girls' and boys' events, while tennis and boys' hockey were won by Suffolk Coastal. After much deliberation, the Fair Play Award was also presented to Suffolk Coastal.
Adam Baker, sports development manager for Ipswich Borough Council said of the Games: "I can safely say that everybody linked with the Ipswich team had a great day.
"Although we didn't win the overall title this year, all the young people that I have spoken to had a wonderful time. I'm sure they will remember the experience for a long time to come.
"I'm also pleased to report that as a direct result of the Games, Ipswich Borough Council's sports development unit was able to provide in excess of 125 hours of additional sports coaching.
"This benefited almost 200 local young people, ensuring that they returned to their clubs and schools as better players in their chosen sports."
With the Games over for another year, competitors who are not already members of a sports club will be provided with links to their local club and encouraged to join, so they can keep up their training and enthusiasm for their chosen sport.
Additionally, those with the ability and desire to progress will be given the opportunity to join development squads, which will provide further coaching and feed into current county teams.
Results from Bury St Edmunds
Overall result: 1 St Edmundsbury, 2 Babergh, 3 Ipswich, 4 Waveney, 5 Mid Suffolk, 6 Forest Heath, 7 Suffolk Coastal.
Fair Play Award: Suffolk Coastal.
Individual Sports Results
Athletics: 1 St Edmundsbury, 2 Forest Heath, 3 Babergh, 4 Ipswich, 5 Mid Suffolk, 6 Waveney, 7 Suffolk Coastal.
Boys' Basketball: 1 Forest Heath, 2 St Edmundsbury, 3 Babergh, 4 Waveney, 5 Ipswich, 6 Mid Suffolk, 7 Suffolk Coastal.
Girls' Basketball: 1 Forest Heath, 2 St Edmundsbury, 3 Mid Suffolk, 4 Babergh, 5 Waveney, 6 Ipswich.
Girls' Football: 1 Waveney, 2 Ipswich, 3 Forest Heath, 4 Babergh, 5 St Edmundsbury, 6 Mid Suffolk.
Boys' Hockey: 1 Suffolk Coastal, 2 Babergh, 3 St Edmundsbury, 4 Forest Heath, 5 Ipswich, 5 Mid Suffolk, 7 Waveney.
Girls' Hockey: 1 Waveney, 2 Babergh, 3 Ipswich, 3 Mid Suffolk, 4 Forest Heath, 4 St Edmundsbury, 7 Suffolk Coastal.
Netball: 1 Ipswich, 2 St Edmundsbury, 3 Mid-Suffolk, 4 Suffolk Coastal, 5 Waveney, 6 Babergh, 7 Forest Heath.
Rugby: 1 Mid-Suffolk, 1 Babergh, 3 St Edmundsbury, 4 Waveney, 5 Ipswich, 6 Forest Heath.
Swimming: 1 Waveney, 2 Ipswich, 3 St Edmundsbury, 4 Mid Suffolk, 5 Suffolk Coastal, 6 Babergh, 7 Forest Heath.
Tennis: 1 Suffolk Coastal, 2 St Edmundsbury, 3 Ipswich, 4 Mid Suffolk, 5 Babergh, 6 Forest Heath, 7 Waveney.