North London Collegiate won a prestigious badminton tournament at the Balfour Beatty London Youth Games schools finals on Tuesday 26 March.
The Harrow School took the female key stage three badminton crown after possibly the closest event across the two day, ten sport event at the National Sports Centre, Crystal Palace.
Along with Sutton’s Wallington School, they were both clearly the teams to beat as they swept aside all comers 5-0 in the rest of their group games. When they faced off in the decisive match, North London Collegiate held their nerve to take a huge victory 3-2 and grab gold.
Lucy Hopkins, PE Teacher at North London Collegiate said: “We are very proud because it was a tense final game, very exciting. The team are over the moon and are jumping around a lot. Badminton is really developing at our school. We’ve got some talented individuals who are helping us get there.
“The atmosphere here is lovely. It’s great to see so many young people taking part and proud to represent their borough.”
The schools finals of the Balfour Beatty London Youth Games are part of the nationwide School Games programme. Around 30,0000 young Londoners began the journey to compete in the finals at the National Sports Centre, Crystal Palace where around 3,000 youngsters representing schools from all 33 London boroughs competed to be the champions of London.
Olympic gold and silver medal winning rower Mark Hunter is a former London Youth Games competitor and he attended this year’s schools finals. He said: “It’s just incredible to see so many happy smiling faces enjoying and participating in sport, no matter where they have come, they are all happy to be here.
“The great thing about the London Youth Games is that it is all in one location, it is like a mini-Olympics. So, to have the support from Balfour Beatty as a sponsor and to make this event possible at a venue like this is great. It really opens up young people’s eyes to the possibilities of sport.“Some kids know who you are, some won’t have a clue. But they all want an autograph or a picture with you. I am always taken back by it. You think no-one watches rowing, but then you come in with the tracksuit and you get your medals out and they are all excited by it. “I remember the impact on me as a kid and it made me want to get my own medals. I am always trying to encourage kids to get more involved.”
The schools finals are part of the wider Balfour Beatty London Youth Games is Europe’s largest annual youth sports event. 104,463 young Londoners took part in the record-breaking 2012 London Youth Games.
The 2013 London Youth Games are the biggest in the event’s 36 year history featuring 85 competitions across 33 sports and 27 event days, including the Thames Water Regatta in June, eight competitions for disability competitors and culminating in finals week at the National Sports Centre, Crystal Palace in July.
There were 44 former London Youth Games competitors who took part in the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games winning 14 medals, including nine gold from Mo Farah (athletics), David Weir (disability athletics), Bradley Wiggins (cycling), Joanna Rowsell (cycling), Naomi Riches (disability rowing). To find out more and to get involved, visit www.londonyouthgames.org