Steve Backley cheers on Norfolk youngsters at the School Games in Norwich

Thousands of youngsters leapt, ran, rowed and swam to glory as they took part in the county's biggest schools sports competition.

Olympic silver medallist Steve Backley OBE led the opening ceremony as the first ever Norfolk School Games Finals got under way today (Monday).

The event, which continues at the UEA Sportspark tomorrow (Tuesday), is the culmination of months of competitions across schools across Norfolk since last September.

It will see more than 2,000 schoolchildren, aged between five and 15, compete in 23 different sports over the two days.

And with just 38 days to go to this year's Olympic Games in London, it is hoped the event will inspire the youngsters to continue to do sport in the future.

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Former world record holder for javelin Mr Backley said: 'The Olympics will inspire the nation but what we do about it is what matters - that's where inspiration turns into opportunity.

'The benefits of today are so far-reaching - there are physical benefits of doing sport and activity but also leadership skills, team-working, and personal awareness which all transfer into real life.

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'And for hundreds of kids to come together and compete against one another, it's a real big stepping stone for some of them to see how they fair against others from different schools.'

Over the two days, the youngsters will compete in sports including tri golf, quicksticks hockey, athletics, tag rugby, gymnastics, indoor rowing and an aquathlon, which will see them swim and run.

Norwich schools taking part included Avenue Junior School, City Academy Norwich and St Thomas More in Jessopp Road.

Tomorrow, the youngsters will be joined by Luke Folwell, the most successful British gymnast in Commonwealth history, who won 5 gold medals for England in 2010.

Stephen Hulme, School Games project officer for Active Norfolk, said: 'In this Olympic year, it's fantastic that this is our biggest ever schools sports event and hopefully the experiences the children have today will inspire them to continue to do sport throughout their lives.'

The School Games are designed to be fully inclusive, with a focus on encouraging participation in competitive sport across the spectrum of abilities and experience.

They have been funded by the National Lottery and the government.

Jo Thompson, PE instructor from Avenue Junior School, said: 'It's fantastic that our children are here with so many kids from schools all over Norfolk. They were fighting for places to be here so it's fantastic that they have been given the opportunity.'

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Have you got an Olympics story? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email

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