West Devon takes the Title at South West Youth Games
UPDATE: video documentary of the day now available (see right)
More than 1,000 youngsters trom right across Devon and Cornwall competed in the South West Youth Games in Okehampton on Sunday at the region‘s biggest community youth sports event.
Watched by Olympian Jemma Simpson, hundreds of youngsters representing nine Devon districts and a combined Cornwall team took part in the annual event, first launched in 1999.
The West Devon team took the honours as the overall winners across a total of 19 sports, four events having already taken place at the Mount Hawke Street Games event in Truro on May 31.
The event was extended this year to take in Cornwall.
It was the second year in a row that West Devon took the overall prize. They also collected the Fair Play Award to crown a great day for the host district.
Corey Burns, West Devon area manager said: ‘Now hopefully at this age, the children will keep being actlve and keep doing sport for the rest of their lives.
‘It’s amazing for them to compete. The competitive part is really good.
‘It’s good to play, but sometimes the kids need a bit of competition and
that is what the South West Youth Games gives them. There’s no pressure if they don’t win. If they do win, it’s a bonus.’
Plymouth-born Jemma Simpson, who represented Team GB over 800m at the 2008 Olympics and also at the World Championships and Commonwealth Games, said: ‘It’s been a great day, great weather, lots of smiling faces, lots of kids trying new sports.
‘Events like this are really important for allowing kids to try lots of sport and discovering what they like. It’s all about enjoying it at this stage. It’s so important to try things and see what happens.
‘I used to do gymnastics, swimming, netball and hockey and I got into athletics from age 8-10 but I still did other sports until I was 16, then I concentrated on running.’
Cllr Jan Goffey, Okehampton Mayor, said: ‘Yet another successful event from
OCRA (Okehampton Community Recreation Association) and South West Youth Games in the lovely setting of Simmons Park.
‘I had so many compliments from civic leaders from all over Devon regarding our lovely park and the superb sports facilities we have within it.’
Sunday saw competitions take place in ability sports, badminton, girls football, girls rugby sevens, gymnastics, high five netball, hockey, indoor athletics, kwik cricket, mixed tag rugby, netball, cyclo cross, dance, tennis and trialthlon in a packed day of multi-sport.
Teignbridge came second overall, followed by Torbay, South Hams, Mid Devon, Cornwall, North Devon and Torridge, East Devon, Exeter and Plymouth.
The Games provide an inspirational Olympic and Paralaympic-type experience for hundreds of participants at the competitions and a long-term incentive for physical activity, as thousands more battle to earn selection for their district team in the weeks and months beforehand.
Event organiser and OCRA Manager Stuart Lord said: ‘Well done to all the 1,000 young people aged 6-18 years involved from Devon and Cornwall.
Many of them were competing in an event of this magnitude for the first time. There were fantastic performances individually and collectively for Team West Devon to win the Games and also the Fairplay trophy. For me the highlight was seeing so many people smiling and having a good time.
‘We are so lucky to have such a great group of skilled and caring instructors, coaches, artists, clubs, young leaders, OCRA staff and people that want to help in our community.
‘A big thank you to everybody involved. It showed Okehampton in a fantastic light as a place to live, be active and host large sporting events.
Stuart added that it was great to have the support of West Devon Borough Council, Fusion, Stags and Simpkins and Edwards.
The South West Youth Games kick started an array of sports and activity Opportunities for everyone with the Okehampton Sports and Fitness Festival, running until July 22.
Over this period there will be over 40 different events, have-a-go sessions, challenges, special offers and competitions.
You can download the programme of events from the Festival page, the OCRA Facebook page or pick up a copy from Parklands Leisure Centre, the OCRA Pavilion in the Park or a number of other outlets in the town.