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Wood excited about competing at Games

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: August 28, 2013

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MILLIE Wood, a 17-year-old rugby sevens player from Cheltenham, is to compete at Abbeydale Sports Ground in Sheffield to represent England South West at the Sainsbury's 2013 School Games.

The event, which is supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust, is a major multi-sport event for the nation's talented young athletes.

It will see more than 1,600 potential future sports stars competing across 12 sports between September 12 and 15.

The Hartpury College pupil, whose mother Heidi Wood won a silver medal swimming in the 4x100m freestyle relay at the 1978 Edmonton Commonwealth Games, will have an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of her sporting heroes and experience what it is like to compete in a major multi-sport event.

Paralympic sprint gold medallists Hannah Cockroft and Jonnie Peacock, Paralympic swimming gold medallist Ellie Simmonds, Olympic bronze gymnastics medallists, Max Whitlock and Sam Oldham and top GB sprinter Adam Gemilli all competed at the high-profile event before going on to sporting success at a senior level.

The four-day multi-sport event will take place in iconic venues across Sheffield.

Alongside the competing athletes, there will be around 400 volunteers aged under 25 years old to help bring the Sainsbury's 2013 School Games to life for the young athletes, along with thousands of spectators.

Wood, who had trials this year for the England women's Under-20s' squad, said: "I am very excited to have been selected for the Sainsbury's 2013 School Games as it's something I've worked very hard to achieve.

"My mother died of breast cancer in November last year so unfortunately has not been able to share in my sporting achievements.

"I narrowly missed out on qualification to the School Games last year and this spurred me on to work harder this year and I have already seen a marked improvement on the rugby pitch.

"Rugby sevens is now an Olympic sport so I think everyone playing has reset their ambitions in the sport and I'm no different – I would love to represent Great Britain in Rio in two years time."

Sainsbury's Active Kids ambassador, David Beckham congratulated Wood.

"Millie should be incredibly proud of being selected to compete in the Sainsbury's 2013 School Games," he said.

"To be given the chance to compete in a multi-sport event and experience a major sporting occasion like this is a huge opportunity for these young people.

"I wish everyone the best of luck and encourage them to enjoy every minute."

John Steele, the chief executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said the event provided a :platform for some of the most promising young athletes to gain an invaluable experience of competing in a multi-sport event.

He said equally important were the young volunteers, officials and coaches who all play an important role in making the event so successful.

Mike Diaper, Sport England's Director of Community Sport, said: "As we build on the success of last summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games, it's great that the next generation of aspiring athletes are having the opportunity to compete against one another in a fun environment.

"Congratulations to all those who have qualified for the finals of this year's Sainsbury's School Games in Sheffield."

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller said the School Games gave young people of all abilities the chance to get involved and play a variety of sports.

"Many congratulations to all those who have been selected to take part in this year's finals, the very best of luck and I'm sure we will discover some sporting stars to look out for in the future," she said.

The Sainsbury's School Games is set across four levels with the Sheffield event providing the top tier of sporting competition.

Across the year young people also compete in a range of sport at county-wide sport festivals.

The School Games is supported by a range of partners including the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Sport England, Youth Sport and British Paralympic Association.

To find out more about the Sainsbury's 2013 School Games visit www.2013schoolgames.com.

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