Another exceptional School Games was brought to its conclusion in style on Sunday afternoon as some of the country’s rising sports stars watched singers and dancers perform at the closing ceremony.
The 2016 School Games at Loughborough University has seen more than 1,600 competitors compete in 12 current and future Olympic and Paralympic sports over the past four days with the 11th edition of the event proving to be a roaring success.
Soul Patrol kicked off the closing ceremony with an energetic performance before three Spirit of the Games winners were announced: Scotland’s volleyball player Edward Oldbury, the Welsh gymnastic team’s youngest member Zoe Simmons and Lanre Sowami of the England South East wheelchair basketball team.
Paradox dance group were next on stage to thrill spectators before the Vote of Thanks officially closed the event and another dance group, Studio 79, brought an end to proceedings.
Before the closing ceremony, there were plenty of medals up for grabs as four days of hockey action came to a dramatic end with England Red beating England Blue 2-0 to win gold in the boys’ final.
Imre Gerrits skippered England Red in a gritty, tactical affair and was proud of the performance by his team – who started out as strangers but finished as friends.
Gerrits said: “We took our chances when they came. I am really proud, afterwards I was weeping with tears.”
It was a golden afternoon at the hockey for England Red, with their girls’ team beating England Blue 4-1 in the final, and Ulster taking bronze.
Elsewhere, three days of exhilarating rugby sevens concluded with England South East being crowned champions after their 22-12 victory over England North.
Ireland took bronze with a 14-10 win over England South West thanks to some resilient defending on their own try-line in the final minute.
In the volleyball England’s two representative teams competed in both finals, as England Junior took the boys’ title with a 25-15, 25-23 victory and the Cadet team won the girls’ competition by beating their national team-mates 25-17, 25-21.
Both bronze medals went to Scotland East after they were victorious against Northern Ireland and Scotland West in the boys and girls third-place play-offs respectively.
England South East were the team to beat in the table tennis with gold medals in four competitions and the overall team trophy to show for their efforts at the Tennis Centre.
Denise Payet, from Enfield, and Hamish Friell, of Croydon, were among the region’s big winners with three golds apiece on a frenetic final day.
“I thought I had improved but this has confirmed I have,” said Payet, who won the girls’ competition, the girls’ team event and scooped a third gold as part of the triumphant South East squad.
“It was great to win the team trophy as well. The team spirit has been amazing and the whole team has been really good.”
In the wheelchair basketball competition England Central took gold for the third year in a row, winning 62-37 against England South. Jonathan Dunn led the way for Central, shooting 20 points.
In the bronze medal match England North overcame Wales 55-37 with Lee Fryer putting up 18 points.
The wheelchair tennis boys’ doubles saw success for Welsh pair Ben Johnson-Rolfe and Clayton White who, playing together for the first time this weekend, overcame Scottish duo Ruairi Logan and Leo Macleod 4-1, 5-4.
Logan had earlier won the boys’ singles title 4-1, 3-0 against England North’s Josh Cooper who retired. Abbie Breakwell beat Megan Bradley 4-1, 4-1 in an all England North battle for the girls’ singles title.
The final judo medals were awarded at New Victory Hall as Northern Ireland clinched team gold, England won all six of the team events in the fencing and Wales’ consistent performances in the boys’ and girls’ road race saw them top the overall cycling standings ahead of West Midlands and Yorkshire.