Commonwealth Games England has announced its team of athletes for the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa.
Around 1,000 athletes aged 14-18 will be competing for 107 gold medals in nine sports over five days of competition in Samoa. 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.
Louise Bell, Team England’s Chef de Mission for the Commonwealth Youth Games said: “We aim to give our young athletes the best chance of performing at their highest level. This may be their first opportunity to represent England and we are ready to support them and help them make the most of the experience. Competing in Samoa will help them understand the unique nature of a multi-sport environment and assist them to grow and develop as athletes.
“With 22 days to go, excitement is building amongst the selected team, a number of the athletes have been successful in recent competitions and we are confident we have a strong team representing Team England in Samoa."
Darcy Deakin, aged 16, from Sheffield, was part of the British Swimming team in Baku and is now ready to represent the English Swim Team in Samoa. “I've competed in Baku and been to the European Youth Olympics, but this is right up there and is massive for all us athletes. The Commonwealth Games is a major global event and one that all athletes aim for, so the Youth Games is a great stepping stone.
"We'll be facing countries such as Australia for the first time and can learn from them as they'll provide fresh competition. Similarly, it'll be a new experience competing against the likes of Scotland, Ireland and Wales outside a Team GB environment so I also look forward to that challenge.”
Commonwealth Games England ambassador and former Commonwealth Games and Youth Games champion Beth Tweddle believes that England’s young athletes will learn a lot from the experience.
“Every competition you do is a stepping stone, but I think having those multi-sport events at a young age allows athletes to experience the competitions that come with outside distractions as well. At the Commonwealth Games you have the village, all that happens in and around it and the media activity around it is a lot bigger. It’s a great opportunity to learn how to deal with all these things.”
This year, England’s Rugby 7s team will be aiming to retain their Youth Games title in Samoa.
Russell Earnshaw, Team Leader for England’s 7s team, who also represented England in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur said: “I think it’s a great rugby and life experience. They get to take part in such an incredible event and represent their country on the other side of the world. They will experience playing against different players and different styles of rugby and it will help them work on their rugby and life skills and it will stand them in good stead.”
The rugby squad is expecting to team up with the senior England 7s team before they fly to Samoa and Tom Mitchell, captain of the senior England men’s Rugby 7s team, offered his advice to England’s young rugby players: “Enjoy the experience and make sure you take it all in. Sometimes that can be a difficult thing to do for the young athlete and it can be quite a daunting environment for some of them.
“First and foremost, just try to enjoy it all and take away from it as much as you can. Whatever the results are, you can learn from them going forward and, as a young athlete, this is really important.”
Ada’ora Chigbo, 16, from Portbury, is a member of the English athletics squad travelling to Samoa and, having already produced a number of notable performances, is looking forward to the opportunity. “I am currently the UK number one for U17 High Jump and Pentathlon and number two for Shot Put and am looking to take the next step onto an international stage. Being so far away from home, in a multi-sport, international environment, is of course a daunting task, but I want to go there and develop as an individual as well as an athlete.”
Each of the sports has a Team Leader, who have a vast array of experience and include former Team England athletes and Team Leaders from previous Commonwealth Games.
Three-time Commonwealth Games winner Ellen Falkner, Lawn Bowls Team Leader said: “I am really looking forward to heading to Samoa. There are a lot of talented young individuals in England and this is their opportunity to progress and we are honoured to be able to help them with that.
“These athletes have earned their place on the plane to Samoa and it’s great to see a variety of sports. Bowls is growing in terms of audiences and participation and we know from previous Commonwealth Youth Games that it's a great springboard for future success and we are confident that our two representatives will be go on to represent their country on a senior level as a result of this experience.”
The fifth Commonwealth Youth Games will take place in the Samoan capital city of Apia. 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.
Team England will soon announce the athlete that has been selected to lead the Team out with the St George’s cross at the opening ceremony.
For a full list of Team England’s athletes, visit http://www.weareengland.org/home/samoa-2015/athletes
To find out more about Samoa 2015, visit http://www.samoacyg2015.ws/