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Local talent shines at world youth sports event

Lanarkshire welcomes young athletes from around the world for International Children's Games

Lanarkshire welcomes young athletes from around the world for International Children's Games

Before London 2012 and Glasgow 2014, it was Lanarkshire's turn to host an international multi-sports event.

The International Children's Games, the world's biggest youth sporting tournament, brought around 1,500 competitors and coaches from 33 countries to Scotland for three days of competition last week.

Scotland had a record number of competitors and was represented by teams from Lanarkshire and Edinburgh who delivered a healthy haul of medals for the host country - six gold, four silver and 10 bronze.

That included a win in the last event, the boys' football final, in which Team Lanarkshire beat Sparta Greece 4-1 before several hundred noisy spectators in the pouring rain at Hamilton Palace.

Christine Pollock, North Lanarkshire's executive director of learning and leisure, said one of the highlights had been the "spectacular" opening ceremony at Motherwell's Fir Park, in which 600 performers showed off Scottish dance and music. The games were not only a platform for sporting talent, she stressed.

There would be an educational legacy, Mrs Pollock added; local schools had produced resources inspired by the games, which were available to all through the Learning and Teaching Scotland website. And from next year, North Lanarkshire will host a primary school games each June, similar in format to last week's events.

One of the most notable faces at Lanarkshire's games was Tommie Smith, a coach to some of the American competitors, but far better known as one of the American 400 metres runners who raised his fist in a "black power" salute at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico.

Lord Coe, chairman of the 2012 London Olympics, met some games competitors while in Glasgow last week. He predicted that the experience of international competition would significantly boost their chances of future success.

Games president Torsten Rasch said Lanarkshire had been an "outstanding" venue.

Henry Hepburn, henry.hepburn@tes.co.uk.

LET THE GAMES BEGIN

The International Children's Games were founded by Slovenian PE teacher Metod Klemenc, who had suffered enormously as a youngster during the Second World War and hoped to foster better understanding between children of different cultures.

The first games took place in Slovenia - then part of Yugoslavia - in 1968. They are now recognised by the International Olympics Committee and have attracted more than 35,000 participants from around 80 countries.

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