Hackney schoolchildren rise to 200 days to go by basketball challenge

Two teams of 26 Hackney primary schoolchildren scored 200 baskets each within 26 minutes at a basketball challenge to mark 200 days to go to the Olympic Games which took place at Hackney Community College yesterday (Monday, 9 January).

The children, aged seven to nine from St John the Baptist primary school in Hoxton, rose to the challenge as part of a Personal Bests athletics training session organised by Hackney Council’s 2012 team. Among those coaching the youngsters was ex-Hackney Community College student and professional basketballer player, Jeff Danchie.

The session took place at the College’s sport and leisure centre, SPACe, which will welcome 70,000 London 2012 Games maker volunteers starting in February, and will be used by hundreds of athletes, including basketball players, as an official training venue for the Olympic and Paralympic Games later this year.

Jeff Danchie, who played for the Plymouth Raiders and is a graduate of the College’s Basketball Academy, said: “With the Olympics coming up there is a huge buzz within the community and it’s great to see the youngsters really excited about it all. The children today had the right attitude and worked well at motivating themselves and each other to achieve their goal. A bit of teamwork really does make the dream work.”

Eight year old Jodie-Mai Davis said: “I really enjoyed doing the basketball challenge. It was lots of fun. I’m also very excited about the Olympics coming to London. I can’t wait to watch the gymnastics.”

“This is a fantastic start to the 200 day countdown in Hackney and I congratulate the children from both teams from St John the Baptist school for succeeding in scoring 200 baskets each in such a short time,” said Councillor Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. “Thanks to initiatives like Personal Bests, and New Age Games, our programme for encouraging activity in the over 50s, more and more people of all ages are participating in sport.”

HCC Principal Ian Ashman added: “Hackney Community College is absolutely delighted to be playing such an instrumental role in preparing volunteers for the Olympics. Being selected as an official training provider for London 2012 is a strong testament to the excellent facilities we have here at the College. With just 200 days to go, we re looking forward to helping make this the best Games ever.”

Personal Bests is Hackney Council’s 2012-inspired primary school athletics programme which has been running for four years. Five thousand pupils have taken part so far, with a further 3,000 due to participate this year. It is fully inclusive, as the children compete against themselves to achieve their own personal bests in a range of sports: long jump, triple jump, shot put, discus, javelin, speed bounce and the Paralympic sport of boccia.