MORE than 1,600 South Yorkshire youngsters are set to be gripped by Olympic fever next week as the biggest school sports event in years kicks off in Sheffield.
The first South Yorkshire School Games are to be held on Monday and Tuesday at the English Institute of Sport, Attercliffe.
More than 140 schools will be represented in the opening parade led by Olympic-style torchbearers.
The contest, designed to build on the excitement mounting as the Olympics approach, will be followed by a second festival in the summer.
Schools from Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham are all involved, with 17 competitions taking place across seven sports – athletics, netball, basketball, cheerleading, gymnastics, boccia and new-age curling.
Almost 580 medals will be awarded over the two days, with winners going forward to compete in the national finals held at London’s Olympic facilities.
There will also be a cultural event to accompany the sports, with dance and music performed by a range of young people.
Helen Cund, head of operations for South Yorkshire Sport, one of the county sports partnerships involved in the event, said: “It promises to be a fantastic showcase of school sport and culture for young people across South Yorkshire, kicking off what we hope will become a focal point in the school sport calendar for the next three years and beyond.”
The South Yorkshire finals are the culmination of a range of competitions within and between schools in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.
A further 1,600 pupils are expected to take part in the summer festival on July 2 and 3 at the Abbeydale Park Sports Complex, Sheffield, when football, tennis, rugby union, rowing and rounders will feature.