For the athletes competing at this year’s School Games, the four-day festival was a small taster of what it's like to compete at an Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The national multi-sport event – supported by National Lottery funding and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust – saw the country’s finest young talent descend on Loughborough University to compete across 12 sports, seven of which included disability disciplines.
After a dance and music-filled opening ceremony to remember, sporting heroes Maggie Alphonsi MBE, Jessica Judd and Paralympic gold medal-winning athlete, Tim Prendergast, were on hand to get the action underway.
Turning talent into success
Developing future talent is a crucial part of our strategy, and the School Games feeds into the work we're doing to set talented young athletes on the road to success.
Our main role is to work towards an active nation that caters for everyone – which includes making sure everyone has the chance to take part in competitive sport.
For some, our talent schemes are the start of a journey that culminates in competition on the global stage – and part of our role is to ensure talented young people are given every opportunity to turn their talent into success.
Providing a springboard
The School Games has provided a springboard for many of today’s biggest names in sport. Previous competitors include Paralympic champions Hannah Cockroft and Jonnie Peacock, Olympic champion Adam Peaty and GB sprinter Adam Gemili.
The event aims to replicate the experience of a major sporting event with an athletes’ village and full education programme giving young people the chance to experience the highs and lows of the sporting arena.
Jayne Molyneux, our director of children and young people, attended this year's event and was amazed by not only the quality of competition but the army of volunteers that helped make it happen.
The army of volunteers were extremely helpful, always had a smile on their face and no job was too small
Jayne Molyneux, director of children and young people, Sport England
"It was fantastic to see the most talented school-age athletes come together to compete in 12 sports over four days of competition," says Jayne.
"There are lots of examples I could give, but a couple of things really stood out for me. One is the army of 450 volunteers who gave up their time to help with the smooth running of the Games. They were extremely helpful, always had a smile on their face and no job was too small.
"The other was the standard of competition in the girls rugby 7s. As a former international rugby player myself, I was overwhelmed by the standard of play and the sheer commitment of every player on and off the pitch."