BILLY Shilton a 15-year-old table tennis player from Stroud, is one of 1,600 youngsters competing at this year’s Sainsbury’s 2014 School Games (4-7 September), a major multi-sport event for elite young athletes.
Billy will represent England South West in the table tennis, just one of 12 sports being contested at the four day event in Manchester which is supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust.
While at the event, Billy will get a taste of the pressure and excitement of competing at the highest level. He will experience an athlete’s village, take part in opening and closing ceremonies, and perform in front of a crowd of thousands.
A delighted Billy said: “I am very pleased to be selected for the third year in succession for the Sainsbury’s School Games. It's a great experience because it's a multi-sport event that is similar to the Olympic and Paralympic Games structure.
My main aims are to play my best and win medals in both the team and singles event. I am looking forward to playing my first match as it's very exciting.”
A number of British stars have all been on the same journey as Billy and experienced competing at the Sainsbury’s School Games before going on to sporting success at a senior level.
In 2008 Team GB’s rising star of the heptathlon, Katarina Johnson-Thompson bagged a gold medal and with it the record of 1.78m in the Girls’ High Jump. Paralympic Swimming Gold medallist, Ellie Simmonds took gold and two silvers in the pool in 2006. Paralympic Gold Medallist sprinter Jonnie Peacock came first in 2009’s Ambulant 100m, setting a then record time of 12:85.
Alongside the competing athletes, there will be around 400 budding volunteers under 25 years old to help bring the Sainsbury’s 2014 School Games to life for the young athletes, along with thousands of spectators. Young reporters will be among the journalists reporting on the action and many of the officials will also be young people.
Tara Hewitt, Head of Sponsorship, Sainsbury’s, said: “I can’t wait to watch some of the country’s greatest sporting prospects compete in some of the country’s most iconic and well-known sporting venues. We’re committed to enabling and inspiring young people to lead healthier, more active lifestyles. Our support of the Sainsbury’s School Games is part of that commitment, whether it’s a sports day egg and spoon race or a 100 metre sprint in less than 10 seconds.”
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid said: “Young people can benefit hugely from taking part in regular exercise and competitive sport. The Sainsbury’s School Games - inspired by the London 2012 Games - is at the heart of the Government’s approach to getting young people participating.
“Congratulations to Billy for being selected to take part in this year’s Sainsbury’s 2014 School Games in Manchester for what I am sure will be an extremely successful event and a chance for our young sporting talent to shine.”
John Steele, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said: “The 1,600 athletes that will travel to the Sainsbury’s 2014 School Games in Manchester are set to gain a valuable insight into what competing at a major multi sport event is really like. Importantly, they will gain some invaluable experiences that will help in their future sporting careers.”
Mike Diaper, Sport England’s Director of Community Sport, said: “The Sainsbury’s School Games are a fantastic opportunity for the next generation of aspiring athletes to compete against one another in a fun environment. Congratulations and the best of luck to all those who have qualified for the finals of this year’s Sainsbury’s School Games in Manchester.”
Ahead of the Sainsbury’s 2014 School Games, people in Stroud are being urged to get behind Billy Shilton via the Sainsbury’s “Show your Support” campaign. People can pledge their messages of support to Billy, either online by using #2014SSG or on the campaign website: www.2014schoolgames.com/support. The messages will be broadcast on a giant screen on the ‘Show your Support’ bus when it visits the Games between 4th – 7th September.
The Sainsbury’s School Games is supported by a range of partners including the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Sport England, Youth Sport Trust, Department of Health and British Paralympic Association.