Tomorrow, 5 September, marks the start of the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Apia, Samoa. Over 1000 young Commonwealth athletes, aged 14-18, will represent their countries and compete for 107 Gold Medals in 9 sports over 5 days.
Team England’s travelling delegation includes 60 athletes, representing eight sports (Archery, Athletics, Boxing, Lawn Bowls, Rugby 7s, Squash, Swimming, Weightlifting), plus coaching and support staff. England will be led out at Saturday’s opening ceremony by weightlifting champion Rebekah Tiler.
England has attended all previous Commonwealth Youth Games, always finishing within the top three nations.
Some of England’s highest profile sports stars have appeared at the Commonwealth Youth Games including Jessica Ennis-Hill, Beth Tweddle, Danny Cipriani, Zoe Smith and James DeGale. The Games provide a number of England’s emerging talent with their first exposure to an international, multi-sport environment.
So who are the next generation of English sports stars that make up Team England? Let’s take a look at the different sports teams competing in Samoa:
It’s already been a great summer for English swimmers with success at the IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow and world records at the British Championships in London. And for athletes involved in England Programmes, it’s been an equally exciting time with domination in the pool at the inaugural European Games in Baku in June, athletes competing in Georgia for the European Youth Olympic Festival, and 12 young English swimmers are preparing to head to the Commonwealth Youth Games in September.
In the team is a young swimmer, called Kyle Chisholm who is 17, from Dewsbury and is certainly one of England’s ‘One’s To Watch’. Kyle won 2 silver medals at the 2015 European Games in Baku, recently won 2 golds, a silver and bronze at the British Summer Championships, ranked 3rd in Britain as a junior in four events and won 2 gold medals at the Energy Standard Cup 2015 meet in Italy.
Joining Kyle is 17 year old Georgia Darwent from Newcastle who is currently ranked 2rd in Britain for the 800m freestyle (u18/17) and won Silver at the British Summer Nationals. And Pershore’s Tazmin Pugh, 15 will be looking to make the most of the experience having earlier this year she finished third in Europe after impressing at the British Senior Championships and junior selection trials and she won three gold and one silver medals at the Energy Standard 4 Nations International in May this year in Italy where she represented England. Pugh is the U15 British Record holder for long course 50m butterfly and ranked 1st in Britain.
Norwich’s Joe Ground and Leicester’s Elizabeth Warner will represent Team England at Archery at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games and both will hope to improve on an already impressive career.
Joe is ranked as UK U18 Number One and is the holder of four national records and was European Team Cadet Recurve Champion and Europa Cup Team Champion. Warner, 15, was crowned the UK U16 Girls Recurve Outdoor Champion in July this year and also came first in Junior Metrics at the UK Junior National Championships and has the UK record for the U18 Girls 720 round at 60 metres.
It goes without saying all the young England athletics team that have been picked to go to Samoa this year have strong credentials in terms of what they have achieved in the events they’re selected for.
Team England's athletics team will be led by female Captain, Alicia Barrett and male Captain, James Gormley.
Alicia, from Chesterfield, is heading to Samoa with her twin, Ella. Alicia will be representing England in the 100m hurdles and Ella in the 200m.
It also has a strong athlete, Niamh Emerson, who has qualified for two events at the Commonwealth Youth Games and she finished 13th for the heptathlon at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Columbia – extremely impressive considering she is a bottom year U18.
We have a strong medal contender in the Javelin in Emma Hamplett and also have two hopefuls in Sophie Merritt and Oliver Bromby, who are both from Southampton AC. Oliver in the 100m and Sophie will be competing in the shot put and discus.
There is a lot of potential in English athlete Toby Harries who has also played rugby with South East England but has focussed on athletics this year and came sixth in the World Youths 200m. He is coached by Jon Bigg, husband of former 400m hurdles Olympic Champion and World Record Holder, Sally Gunnell.
In the women’s 400m there is Hannah Williams, who is the younger sister of Jodie who was Commonwealth and European 200m silver medallist in 2014. Jodie also won gold in the European 4 x 100m as part of the quartet that broke the British record.
There is a lot of exciting talent in England’s young athletics squad and many of them will be setting their sights on Rio 2016, and if they don’t make that flight, then 2020 is a real goal for them.
It’s an exciting year for England’s young boxers as they go up against some of the World’s most talented young stars at the 2015 Commonwealth Games.
Five young athletes have been selected to represent England in Samoa with a variety of experience, with all of them winning Youth Championships within the past few years.
Mohammed Harris Akbar, 16, from Bradford has been boxing for seven years. His most significant England Boxing titles include being the 2014 Junior Champion and 2015 Youth Champion. He also competed in the 2013 Junior European Championships and the Junior World Championships in Kiev in the same year, where he lost to a tough Cuban opponent.
We also have 18 year old Dalton Smith, from Sheffield, who has been boxing for thirteen years. His most significant England Boxing titles include being the 2015 Youth Champion, 2014 Youth Champion, 2013 Junior Champion and 2011 Schools Champion. He also won Silver at the 2014 European Boxing Championships 2014 in Zagreb.
Hoping to one day achieve success like his all-time favourite boxer, the former two-time Olympic gold medallist from Cuba, Mario Kindelán, Benjamin Whittaker, 18, from West Bromwich has been boxing for eight years. This year he was crowned as an England Boxing Youth Champion and they are all joined by Sunderland’s Kiaran MacDonald who is also 18 and this year was crowned as an England Boxing Youth Champion.
Lawn Bowls has been traced back to the 13th century and is a sport founded by England, so this year’s two English athletes will want to perform to the highest of their abilities. Bradley Coles and Ruby Hill have already gained years of experience in the sport and will be looking to make the most of the experience in Samoa. Bradley has already performed at an international event at the International U18 Series in Scotland where he won Silver and will be looking to win medals at this year’s Youth Games.
In this the year of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, England’s Rugby 7s team should feel extra proud to be pulling on the jersey and this year and England is confident ahead of the Commonwealth Youth Games.
Many of England’s young players have received a large amount of International caps already and players such as Dan Marshall (Newcastle Falcons) and Samuel Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins) have played club rugby at a senior level.
This year, two of England’s talented young squash players will be following in the likes of former world number one, James Willstrop as they head to Samoa to experience an international multi-sports environment.
Georgina Kennedy, from London was crowned U19 Junior Champion in Prague this year and U19 English Champion in March. She is joined in the team by Patrick James Rooney, from Halifax who has over the years been crowned U13, U15, U17 and U19 English Junior Champion.
It’s very exciting for England’s weightlifting team heading to Samoa, especially as many of them aim to follow in the footsteps of iconic Glasgow 2014 champion, Zoe Smith.
And this year, one young English star aims to lift her way to the top, having already make her debut at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Having competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Keighley’s Rebekah Tiler is widely regarded as one of England’s most exciting young talents and is currently the Women’s British record holder for the clean and jerk, having lifted 124kg. She narrowly missed out on a medal in Glasgow last year when she finished fourth, but will be able to use her experience to lead Team England’s young athletes in Samoa.
For a full list of Team England’s athletes heading to Samoa, visit http://po.st/HGLscj
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