Sussex pupils prove what a sporty - and sporting - lot they are

The Southern Sharks at the school games
The Southern Sharks at the school games

Youngsters stole the show at this year's Specsavers Sussex School Games.

The exciting ‘mini-Olympics and Paralympics,’ in its eighth year, took place at the K2 Crawley, a state-of-the-art competition venue operated by Everyone Active.

Central Sussex Dolphins

Central Sussex Dolphins

Over 1000 young people, aged 7-16 years old, from 119 teams across the county, enjoyed the prestigious occasion, taking part across 14 different sports including Athletics, Gymnastics and Stoolball - the only event of its size for school children in Sussex.

Athletes, from each area across the county qualified from local district finals and area teams represented were; Brighton & Hove Hawks, Central Sussex Dolphins, Crawley Cougars, Hastings & Rother Leopards, Mid Sussex Panthers, North Wealden Warriors, South Downs Giants, Southern Sharks and West Sussex West Wolverines.

Southern Sharks won the overall points title, with Mid Sussex Panthers in second place while Hastings & Rother Leopards finished third.

All the inspirational athletes were cheered on by Charles Cousins, 30, the London Olympian and double World Championships medallist.

Charles Cousins addresses the youngsters

Charles Cousins addresses the youngsters

The former GB Rowing Team sculler gave a stirring speech to the participants during the opening ceremony, encouraged and supported youngsters throughout the day and presented medals.

"It’s been such a great event to be part of and it's important to get kids enjoying and trying out different sports and keeping active," said Cousins, who has now turned his hand to coaching.

"Sport has the power to take you on so many amazing adventures, meet lots of wonderful people and help your health and mental wellbeing.

"I promise there is a sport for everyone and I'm testament to this because at school I didn't even like sport at all, I just didn't think it was something for me. But luckily a door was opened and I’ve never looked back. I hope the young people will be inspired from the Specsavers Sussex School Games and find a sport they love.

"In our modern climate with children's health making headlines for a lot of the wrong reason– now more than ever it’s important for kids to get away from the classroom and take part in events like today."

Sadie Mason, Active Sussex Chief Executive, said: "This event simply couldn’t happen without the support of our funders, local partners and local organisers who work tirelessly from September onwards running the schools events which feed into today’s grand finale. We would therefore like to say a big thank you to our headline sponsor Specsavers, our hosts - Everyone Active and our School Games Organisers for their continued support."

This year, for the first time in the history of the prestigious event, alongside the top three medals – gold, silver and bronze, up for grabs in each sport, Spirit of the Games Awards were also presented.

Winners were voted for by their fellow Sussex schools for demonstrating one or more of the six School Games values: determination, honesty, passion, respect, teamwork and self-belief.

Spirit of the Games Awards had the same point’s value as a gold medal, therefore playing in the right spirit was just as important as winning!

"What was so great was all the youngsters really got into the spirit of the games," said Charles. "Everyone was supporting everyone on the day, cheering for people not just in their team but in all the other teams as well and that is what it is all about."

Badrinath Mohandas, store director in Hailsham and Uckfield and regional chair for the Specsavers stores in Sussex, added: "My colleagues and I were delighted to be able to attend and share in what has been a terrific event.

"We were especially excited about the Spirit of the Games Awards, as they really represent the values that we have as local businesses."

A fun and thrilling sporting event, the games provide an inclusive sporting opportunity for young people to be involved in a range of sports and provide a meaningful experience, whatever their ability. For the second year the Change4Life programme for non-competing children also ran, with 90 additional children taking part in Climbing sessions, the Activity Zone activities and personal challenges during a tour of all the sports.

One of the focuses of the inspiring event is to build young people's passion for physical activity and sport and encourage life-long activity habits. It also gives young people the opportunity to represent their school and be proud of their achievements while creating happy memories and experiences they can share with their families.

Leading up to this year's Summer flagship event were four levels of competition - in schools, between schools, at county level and at the finals. In total 51,116 children participated (throughput) across 550 school competitions and 2,298 children competing in 34 county competitions with the support from 340 young volunteers.

The Specsavers Sussex School Games is backed by National Lottery funding from Sport England and headline sponsor Specsavers (16 local Specsavers stores across Sussex).

And the games is delivered by a local organising committee made up of Active Sussex, the Sussex School PE and Sport Network (SGOs), National Governing Bodies of Sport, volunteers and head teachers.

Top three final standings

Southern Sharks

Mid Sussex Panthers

Hastings & Rother Leopards

Results - top three final standings & Spirit of the Games Awards for each sport

Boccia (Y5-10 Mixed): 1. Mid Sussex Panthers (St Paul's Catholic College, Burgess Hill), 2. Southern Sharks (Davison Church of England High School for Girls, Worthing), 3. North Wealden Warriors (Grove Park School, Crowborough)

Spirit of the Games Award: South Downs Giants (Ocklynge Junior School, Eastbourne)

Football (Y5/6 Mixed): 1. Southern Sharks representative team, 2. Hasting & Rother Leopards (St Paul's Church of England Academy, St Leonards-on-Sea), 3. Mid Sussex Panthers (Lindfield Primary Academy, Haywards Heath)

Spirit of the Games Award: Mid Sussex Panthers (Linfield Primary Academy, Haywards Heath)

High 5 Netball (Y5/6 Mixed): 1. Southern Sharks (St Peter's Church of England Primary School, Henfield), 2. North Wealden Warriors (Newick Church of England Primary School, Lewes), 3. Central Sussex Dolphins (St Andrew's Church of England Primary School, Horsham)

Spirit of the Games Award: South Downs Giants (Harbour Primary and Nursery School)

Keystep Gymnastics (Y5/6 Mixed): 1. West Sussex Wolverines (Edward Bryant School, Bognor Regis), 2. Southern Sharks (Rustington Community Primary School, Little Hampton), 3. Hasting & Rother Leopards (St Peter and St Paul Church of England Primary School, Bexhill)

Spirit of the Games Award: South Downs Giants (Bourne Primary School, Eastbourne)

Netball (Y7 Girls): Southern Sharks (Steyning Grammer School, Steyning), 2. Brighton & Hove Hawks (Cardinal Newman Catholic School, Hove), 3. Central Sussex Dolphins (Millais School, Horsham)

Spirit of the Games Award: Southern Sharks (Steyning Grammar School, Steyning)

New Age Kurling (Y5-10 Mixed): 1. Hasting & Rother Leopards (Saxon Mount School, St Leonards-on-Sea), 2. Southern Sharks (The Angmering School, Littlehampton), 3. Brighton & Hove Hawks (High Park School, Brighton)

Spirit of the Games Award: North Wealden Warriors (Grove Park School, Crowborough)

Quadkids Ahletics (Y5/6 Mixed): 1. Brighton & Hove Hawks (Cottesmore St Mary's Catholic Primary School, Hove), 2. Southern Sharks (Thomas A Becket Junior School, Worthing), 3. Crawley Cougars (Maidenbower Junior School, Crawley)

Spirit of the Games Award: Brighton & Hove Hawks (Cottesmore St Mary's Catholic Primary School, Hove)

Quicksticks Hockey (Y5/6 Mixed): 1. Southern Sharks (Steyning Church of England Primary School), 2. Central Sussex Dolphins (Shelley Primary School, Horsham), 3. Mid Sussex Panthers (Harlands Primary School, Haywards Heath)

Spirit of the Games Award: Brighton & Hove Hawks (Cottesmore St Mary's Catholic Primary School, Hove)

Stoolball (Y9/10 Girls): 1. South Downs Giants (Langney Primary Academy, Eastbourne), 2. West Sussex Wolverines (Felpham Community College, Bognor Regis), 3. Mid Sussex Panthers (Downlands Community School, Hassocks)

Spirit of the Games Award: North Wealden Warriors (Uplands Community College, Wadhurst)

Street 20 Cricket (Y7 Mixed): 1. Mid Sussex Panthers (Downlands Community School, Hassocks), 2. South Downs Giants (Ratton School, Eastbourne), 3. Central Sussex Dolphins (Tanbridge House School, Horsham)

Spirit of the Games Award: North Wealden Warriors (Heathfield Community College, Heathfield)

Super Sixes Golf (KS 3/4 Mixed): 1. Mid Sussex Panthers (Warden Park School, Haywards Heath), 2. Southern Sharks (The Angmering School, Littlehampton), 3. Hastings & Rother Leopards (St Richard's Catholic College, Bexhill-on-Sea)

Spirit of the Games Award: Crawley Cougars (St Wilfred's Catholic Comprehensive School, Crawley)

Table Tennis (Y7/8 Mixed): 1. Central Sussex Dolphins (Tanbridge House School, Horsham), 2. Hastings & Rother Leopards (Bexhill High Academy, Bexhill-on-Sea), 3. Brighton & Hove Hawks (Patcham High School, Brighton)

Spirit of the Games Award: Central Sussex Dolphins (Tanbridge House School, Horsham)

Tri Golf (Y3/4 Mixed): 1. Southern Sharks (Lyminster Primary School, Littlehampton), 2. West Sussex Wolverines (Southway Primary School, Bognor Regis), 3. Mid Sussex Panthers (The Windmills Junior School, Hassocks)

Spirit of the Games Award: Crawley Cougars (St Margaret's Church of England Primary School)