I have been in Birmingham today to present medals to young athletes competing in the UK final of the Norwich Union Sports:Hall competition. Sports:Hall is one of the grassroots schemes that make up Norwich Union's sponsorship of UK Athletics and today's final was a competition between the best under 13s and under 15s from throughout the United Kingdom.
Over 2.5 million children have competed in the competition so far this year and today saw 500 young athletes pack the National Indoor Arena to compete in regional teams in a variety of indoor track and field events. Whilst there is a serious side to the competition, which has seen the start to athletic stardom by the likes of Kelly Sotherton, Denise Lewis and Mark Lewis-Francis, there is a certain element of fun to it as well.
I know I am being slightly biased here, but it is these sorts of schemes that get children excited about athletics - you end up doing all the activities so you are not rated on just one race. I watched one kid come last in his sprint race, but then go on to win Gold in the Shot. I also watched a 12 year old high jump 1.77m - which was incredible!
So the slow train journey there and back was pretty tedious but the running, jumping, throwing, cheering, and medal presenting made the day absolutely brilliant.