Hundreds of young people to celebrate sport in Leeds with the Queen's Baton Relay

Caption: L-R Batonbearers Laura Beardsmore, Ali Jawad, Nile Wilson and Norman Stephens outside Leeds Civic Hall.

Commonwealth Games England have today announced that hundreds of local young people will be getting involved in a series of exciting events when Leeds welcomes the Queen’s Baton Relay on June 12.

Children and local athletes will participate in organised events at Headingley Carnegie Stadium, the John Charles Centre for Sport and finally a civic celebration when the baton arrives next month.

Throughout the day the baton will be visit a number of events, organised by Leeds City Council, where it will be carried by local community heroes nominated for their contributions to sports, coaching, education and the community in Leeds.

The Queen's Baton will begin its activity-packed day at Headingley Carnegie Stadium at 9.30am, where it will be welcomed by pupils from high schools across Leeds.

They will get the chance to take part in football, rugby and cricket talent identification sessions in a bid to spot the next generation of young sports stars.

At the Headingley event The Queen's Baton will be carried by Laura Beardsmore, who was selected as a baton bearer because of her achievements in Aikido.

As the first person to retain the Women’s Individual Randori at the World Aikido Championships in Japan, Laura is one of the world’s foremost female martial artists.

The Queen's Baton Relay will then travel to the John Charles Centre for Sport where it will be carried by Nile Wilson, a member of Leeds Gymnastics Club.

Nile claimed four medals at the European Youth Olympics and a further six medals at the World School Games in Rio.

Along with Nile there will be a further three baton bearers at the event.

Sophie Taylor will be representing Leeds Swimming Training Scheme and City of Leeds Swimming Club.

Sophie continued to make waves in the pool with some outstanding performances. Winning three bronze medals at the British Senior Championships, she also broke the British junior record in the 100m breaststroke.

But the best was yet to come. In winning a silver medal at the World Youth Championships in Dubai, she set a new British senior record – elevating her to 13th in the world in the process.

Also carrying the baton will be Ali Jawad, who has been nominated for his extraordinary talent in the sport of Paralympic Weightlifting.

Ali won Gold at the Asian World Championships; lifting an astonishing 185.5kg - three times his own body weight. This was also a new European and World record, and saw him ranked number one in the world.

Charlotte Sansome, who has done some phenomenal work developing hockey in Leeds, will also be carrying the baton.

Charlotte is Leeds University Hockey Club’s first ever community secretary – a position that has seen her transform the club’s relationship with the local area.

As well as hugely increasing the levels of charitable fundraising by university sports clubs, she has also established links with local primary schools, offering hockey taster sessions and organising a schools tournament.

The event at the John Charles Centre will also see around 1,300 children from 80 schools trying their hand at a number of Commonwealth sports.

The baton will finish its trip to Leeds with a special celebration of the city’s athletes, coaches and volunteers at Leeds Civic Hall.

The prestigious evening event will recognise the important contribution that members of Leeds’ sporting community have made to the city.

Norman Stephens, who for 35 years has given people throughout Yorkshire the opportunity to experience sailing via his Sail Free charity, will carry the baton to the event.

With a particular focus on children and adults with disabilities, his tireless work at Otley Sailing Club has been recognised nationally with the Royal Yachting Association making the club a centre of excellence for their Sailability initiative.

Norman currently runs an extensive programme of events, bringing the thrill of sailing to as many people as possible.

Kelly Holmes, president of Commonwealth Games England, said:

“I’m encouraging everyone in Leeds to get involved when the Queen’s Baton Relay comes Leeds. Leeds will be hosting an incredible celebration of sport on June 12 and everyone can join in.

"If you can be there then please go and give sport a go, cheer your inspirational baton bearers and be part of the Team England send-off to Glasgow.”

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for leisure and skills, added:

“We’re really looking forward to welcoming the Queen’s Baton to Leeds and I’m sure it will be a really exciting and memorable day.

“Not only does it give us a chance to play our part in the Commonwealth Games, it’s also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for hundreds of local young people to get involved and have some fun, trying their hand at some of the sports they’ll be able to watch once the Games get underway.

“The visit also means we can celebrate the accomplishments of some of our sports stars who play such an important role in making Leeds such a proud sporting city.”

Before visiting Leeds, the Queen's Baton will have visited 68 of the 70 Commonwealth nations and will be en route to its final journey through Scotland to the start of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The XX Commonwealth Games takes place in Glasgow from July 23 to August 3. Commonwealth Games England is sending a 400-strong team to compete across the 17 sports.


Notes to Editors

- Media accreditation will be required to ensure access to all of the day’s media opportunities. To register for media accreditation please email ben.hurley@runcommunications.co.uk Mobile: 07825171810

- Also email or call Ben Hurley with interview or other requests in advance of the day.

-Commonwealth Games England (CGE) leads and manages the participation of the Team England at the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games. We are affiliated to the Commonwealth Games Federation and work closely with the various sports’ National Governing Bodies (NGBs), funding partners such as Sport England, our commercial sponsors and Organising Committees. Our purpose is to help develop athletes and their sports, and to achieve success at Games-time.

- The Queen’s Baton Relay in England is funded by Sport England and the National Lottery.

For more details, please contact:

Ben Hurley

email: ben.hurley@runcommunications.co.uk

Tel: 07825171810