Stockport Metro swimmer Elizabeth Harris walked away from the 2016 School Games with two medals to her name and admits she could barely have asked for a better start to the new season.
While the majority of action took place in Loughborough, the swimming was held at Ponds Forge in Sheffield on Saturday and Harris clinched gold in the 200m freestyle before adding 400m free silver later in the day.
The School Games is a major multi-sport competition for school-age elite athletes and over the past four days, around 1,600 of the nation’s finest young sports stars were competing across 12 current and future Olympic and Paralympic sports, seven of which included disability competition.
And the 16-year-old is now full of confidence, believing her performances bode well ahead of a busy year.
“I am really happy because it is the start of the new season and a great way to start it,” explained Harris.
“I was off my PB but it is going in the right direction and going the way I want it to.
“The 200m is my main event and this gives me so much confidence for the rest of the season, and I am really excited about what could happen.
“I want to try and make European Juniors at the end of the season, I have been aiming for it for a couple of years, so I am desperate to get there.”
The School Games is supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust.
With 15 of Team GB’s 67 medals at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games coming from School Games alumni, it has proven to be a great introduction to a multi-sport environment for the stars of the future.
Harris wasn’t the only local to find success at the event as Audenshaw School pupil Hannah Monks helped England Junior to volleyball silver and Manchester Mavericks star Lucas Warburton was part of the England North team that won wheelchair basketball bronze.
Also in the wheelchair basketball, Oldham Owls’ Jonathan Dunn led England Central to gold, racking up 20 points in a 64-37 win over England South in the final.
“It feels brilliant to win a gold medal,” said 18-year-old Dunn. “We have won the last two years so I wanted to finish my last School Games on a high.
“Our record before this year put pressure on us and I was really tense before the final. I thought it would be a really close game but I’m delighted we came through.”
The 2016 School Games is supported by a range of partners including the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Sport England, Youth Sport Trust, Department of Health and British Paralympic Association. The Games took place in Loughborough from 1-4 September 2016. Visit www.2016schoolgames.com for more information.