Primary school children battle it out at Hackney Personal Bests final

Primary school children from across the borough have battled it out at the Hackney Personal Bests finals yesterday (Wed 7 July) - the Council s health-based sports programme which teaches young people about diet and nutrition in conjunction with sports to encourage healthy lifestyles.

More than 400 pupils aged nine to 11 recorded their personal best scores in discus, javelin, shot put, long jump, triple jump and speed bounce.

Those taking part in the finals at Hackney Downs Park were the children who had shown the greatest levels of improvement in their scores during the training programme that has been running in Hackney’s primary schools this year.

Personal Bests finalists were joined by: 400m hurdler and London 2012 hopeful Perri Shakes Drayton; Hackney’s Dervis Konuralp, Paralympic swimmer and the borough’s ambassador for the 2012 Games; and official 2012 mascot Mandeville.

The sports stars encouraged the children to do their best and handed out a trophy and gold medals to the winning team from Whitmore Primary School. They awarded silver medals to second place Horizon Special School, and bronze medals to third place Holmleigh Primary School.

Dervis Konuralp said: “Sport is so accessible for children of all abilities and is another means of achievement for them. It has helped me so much and I hope it can do the same for other young people.”

Cllr Guy Nicholson, Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration and the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, said: “Congratulations to all the young people who took part in the Personal Bests programme and I hope they continue to enjoy taking part in sports.

“One of Hackney Council’s long-held ambitions is to inspire residents of all ages to get involved in regular physical activity, and being a host borough for the 2012 Games is a great inspiration for this. It s also really important that young and older residents alike understand the value of a healthy, balanced diet. Personal Bests combines physical activity and an understanding of nutrition to help our young people grow up fit, active and healthy.”

Hackney Personal Bests is now in its third year and the programme has involved around 1,500 children. All the schools have been given sporting equipment such as discus and javelins so that they can continue taking part in these sports.

Among the schools involved this year, five were special schools, including Stormont House and Whitmore Primary School. The independent Muslim school, Tawid School for Boys, and the Orthodox Jewish school, Simon Marks, took part for the first time.

The Hackney Personal Bests programme is run by Hackney Council’s 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Unit and funded through Team Hackney, the borough’s local strategic partnership.

It is a health-based sports programme which has involved learning in the classroom as well as sports training. All pupils who took part received an interactive work book specially produced for the programme which includes health messages, a personal lifestyle diary, information about the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and a record of their own personal best performances. The school with the best completed workbooks will win an award later this year at the Hackney Youth Sports Awards, organised by the Council.

Hackney Personal Bests has recently been the focus of international attention when a delegation from Beijing visited Grazebrook Primary School’s training session. The group included the Deputy Mayor and councillors from Haidian, the Beijing borough which housed the media centres for the Beijing 2008 Games. The visitors are looking into how a similar programme can be run in their schools.