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Thames Water London Youth Games Regatta - Preview

by Jennifer Hutchison 24 May 2010 10:40 BST 5 June 2010

The Thames Water London Youth Games Regatta takes place on Saturday 5 June with a record number of registered entrants and boroughs set to compete in the Olympic borough of Newham at the Royal Victoria Docks and London Regatta Centre.

The Regatta has been one of the great success stories of the London Youth Games. Re-launched in 2008 as a pilot after several years’ absence, it has quickly gathered momentum. Two years ago 277 kids took to the water to compete in sailing, rowing, kayak sprint and kayak slalom.

In 2009, that figure jumped up to 563 and this year there are a heart-warming 721 registered from 31 boroughs from a maximum 33 to compete in across the four sports. Not only is the Regatta driving up participation in water sports amongst London youngsters, but it is providing a competition of genuine relevance for each sport.

Mark Hunter, Olympic Rowing Gold medallist and former London Youth Games competitor for Havering said: “I am really pleased to hear about the huge success of the London Youth Games Regatta. In my own sport of rowing they have progressed from 27 youngsters competing two years ago to 200 registered for this year. That’s incredible.

“For young people to take part in sport and to progress further they need the excitement of competition. The London Youth Games fulfils that role brilliantly. It is such a vibrant, enjoyable event and keeps young people wanting to maintain and even increase their involvement in competitive sport. There is little doubt that many of those will go on to be the British internationals of the future.”

Steve Mitchell of the Royal Yachting Association said: “I grew up in Central London and I cannot begin to say how important it is. Up until the London Youth Games, there was no focus for the youngsters. Why would a kid get involved in sailing if there was no competition to aim for?

“We have now got 28 boroughs involved and we have seen a significant increase in centres and clubs. We now have plenty more young dinghy instructors and they train because of the London Youth Games. Those same youngsters make things happen in their local communities.”

Trevor Wetherall coaches Richmond’s kayak sprint team and is a former coach of the Team GB Olympic team. He said: “The London Youth Games is a great introduction to competition for youngsters. The team concept really works well.

“I’ve known a few paddlers who have had their first competitive experience at the London Youth Games who have gone on to represent Great Britain and race at the World Championships, such as Lizzie Broughton. The London Youth Games is that vital early link to competition and if they get a taste for it, they come back for more and go on to higher level competitions.”

Hannah Bladen, Sport England's Regional Lead for London, said: "For many young people, sport is about having fun and enjoying the experience of taking part. But for some, the chance to compete at a higher level gives an even greater buzz - and is where sporting careers are kick started.

“The London Youth Games is a fantastic force for increasing participation in competitive sport and a showcase for the young sporting talent the capital has to offer."

The London Youth Games is Europe’s largest annual youth sports event. In 2009 around 47,000 kids took part in 30 sports from all 33 London boroughs.

Former participants at the London Youth Games include 2008 Beijing Olympic Gold medallists Christine Ohuruogu (athletics), Bradley Wiggins (cycling) and Mark Hunter (rowing). Christine Ohuruogu is the 2010 patron of the Games, she represented her borough of Newham in netball and athletics as a youngster

The 2010 season launched with the girls indoor cricket qualifiers on 6/7 February and runs for 25 competition days throughout the year, climaxing at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre on 3-4 July.

Christine Ohuruogu on London Youth Games:

2009 London Youth Games review: