On your marks for The Games

SOUTH Yorkshire will be in the full glare of the media spotlight when reality TV show The Games comes to Sheffield.

The Channel 4 mini-Olympics will see 10 celebrities battle it out in a series of sporting events in South Yorkshire's top sporting venues.

Producers hope that thousands of fans will turn up cheer to on the contestants, including Sheffield's own Anna Walker.

The action kicks off this Friday with a sell out live launch show at Sheffield's Ponds Forge.

Female contestants - including Sky Sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher - will be competing in the 50m freestyle and the men will be diving.

There will also be sumo-wrestling at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, hurdles at Don Valley Stadium and speed skating at iceSheffield.

Now in its third series, The Games is hoping to get bigger viewing figures by extending its run to nine nights, and including more adventurous sports.

This year's female contestants include comedienne Mel Giedroyc, RnB singer Lisa Maffia, actress and "it girl" Princess Tamara Czartoryski-Borbon. And the boy's line-up includes one-hit wonder Chesney Hawkes, luvvie Jonathan Morris from Bread and Kevin Simm of Liberty X.

Philip Olivier who starred in the axed Liverpool soap Brookside and Craig Charles - comedian and presenter of TV's Robot Wars - will also take part.

New for this year there will be a Champion of Champions show on Saturday April 2 when The Games 2003 and 2004 winners will return to defend their titles.

Stars competing in the grand final include Harvey, Terri Dwyer, Josie D'Arby, James Hewitt, Romeo, Mr Gay UK aka Jarrod Batchelor, Katy Hill and Lady Isabella Hervey.

Last year's winner Shane Lynch will be joining Jamie Theakston in the studio for a chat.

A thousand tickets for Friday's opening night have been snapped up but tickets for other events cost just 3 per person - which is 2 less than last year - and are available from the HallamFM Arena Box Office on 0114 256 5656.

Timetable of events

March 25 - Ponds Forge

Swimming (Women)

Diving (Men)

March 26 - Don Valley Stadium

Hurdles (women)

Weightlighting (men)

March 27 - English Institute of Sport

Cycling (women)

Sumo Wrestling (men)

March 28 - English Institute of Sport

Gymnastic Vault (men)

Gymnastic Floor (women)

March 29 - iceSheffield

Skating (men)

Curling (women)

March 30 - Rother Valley Park

Rowing (women)

Water-ski Jump (men)

March 31 - English Institute of Sport

Cycling (men)

Trampolining (women)

April 1 - Don Valley Stadium (Finale)

Hammer (women)

Javelin (men)

100m Sprint (men and women)

April 2 - Don Valley Stadium - Champion of Champions

Hammer (women)

Weightlifting (men)

4 x 100m relay (men and women)