We all remember school sports days, but for over 1000 youngsters from academies within the David Ross Education Trust, today’s Summer Cup at Grantham’s Meres Stadium meant not only sprinting round a track or leaping into the long jump, but brushing shoulders with sports stars like Dame Kelly Holmes, Andy Turner and Jenny Jones.
The Olympic and Commonwealth medallists were there to inspire the pupils who had travelled to the Meres in order to compete in a variety of sports, ranging from track and field to tennis, rugby, hockey and swimming.
Dame Kelly Holmes said: “It is absolutely brilliant to see young people getting excited about sports. When I was up on the stage for this event’s opening ceremony there were 1500 people and it’s very inspiring and a great opportunity.”
The double Olympic gold medallist was also on hand to advise many of the young athletes, including those competing in her key disciplines, the 800m and 1500m.
“One boy came to speak to me after he lost his race, but I told him what to work on for his next race so he can build on that for the next stage.
“Events like this and being exposed to sports at a young age is so important, so that young people know what they are good at. What’s nice about the David Ross Trust is that by bringing these 25 academies together they have the opportunity to experience a high level of competition.”
The middle distance champion was not the only sporting star giving tips to students, with track and field Commonwealth gold medallist Andy Turner speaking to lots of the young athletes, and added: “If you can inspire at least one kid then you’re doing your job.”
Jenny Jones who at this year’s winter games in Sochi became the first Briton to win an Olympic medal on snow said: “Today is fantastic. I’ve been watching a lot of the primary schools that are also here doing obstacle courses.
“It’s nice too that by going up against other academies, they are getting to compete as a team not just individually.”
Amongst the schools taking part were Charles Read Academy, who came over from Corby Glen with over 60 pupils, including 13-year-old Benjamin Rigby who recently showed Princess Beatrice how to serve at table tennis and has ambitions to play at Olympic level.
Charles Read’s Acting Principal Robert Sloan said: “There are lots of opportunities today for our students to compete, and this is on top of our own upcoming sports day.
“They have met sports stars here and we also had athletes come to the academy to give lessons in the run up, including Commonwealth athletes Christian Malcolm and Kelly Sotherton.
“They are really enjoying today and getting to compete against the best of the best.”