Table tennis teenagers kick off school olympics in Sheffield

Launch of Sainsbury's school games
Launch of Sainsbury's school games
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Promising talents in the world of table tennis kicked off a major sporting event which aims to get young people into new pursuits.

The teenage stars showed off their skills at an outdoor table on The Moor in Sheffield city centre.

They were promoting the Sainsbury’s School Games which will run in Sheffield from September 12 to 15, and will attract around 1,600 of the nation’s young sporting stars.

One of the competitors will be Alex Bland, aged 14, who was at the tables yesterday. The Birkdale School student, of Greasbrough in Rotherham, plays in the local league and as a disability player for Yorkshire as he has cerebral palsy.

Alex said: “The games are a good idea because they get more people into sport.

“I started table tennis because I played it on holiday. It’s fun, it’s easy and I seemed to be quite good at it!”

Handsworth player David Thompson, aged 14, is Yorkshire number one in his category.

He said: “I am looking forward to the games - and hopefully winning some medals.”

Venues across Sheffield will host the games, including Abbeydale Sport Ground, Ponds Forge, iceSheffield, English Institute of Sport, Don Valley Stadium, Motorpoint Arena, Bradfield School and Forge Valley School.

Competitions will be held in 12 sports, from judo to fencing and cycling to volleyball. Yesterday the players challenged passers-by to matches – with those who won getting tickets to the games.

Vince Newdum, manager of the Sainsbury’s store on The Moor, said: “There has been a superb response from people who came along, ranging from four-year-olds to 60-year-olds.

“It’s all been to make people in Sheffield aware that the School Games are coming here.

“And the aim of the games is to get people into sport.

“We had some of Sheffield’s finest table tennis players here. I gave it a go but I was beaten.”

n For more details of the event visit www.2013schoolgames.com