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Cross-country: mud, sweat and tiers

Virtual Youth Games returns after it made successful switch online during the first lockdown

26 November, 2020 — By Steve Barnett

The girls’ Youth Games cross-country event at Parliament Hill Fields last year

YOUNG athletes are being urged to keep their spikes sharp by racing online against the clock in a bid to win precious points for their borough.

Thousands of youngsters were due to meet up in the mud at Parliament Hill Fields this month for the London Youth Games Cross-Country Championships. But with lockdown measures in place, the season opener for Europe’s largest annual sports competition has been forced once again to go virtual.

The Games, in which London boroughs are invited to battle it out for medals in a wide range of disciplines – including athletics, football, hockey, archery, and swimming – were brought to an abrupt end last season due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Organisers refused to be beaten, however, and quickly set about launching the Virtual Games, giving future sports stars the chance to take part in a series of challenges that could be done at home, at school or while out for daily exercise, before posting their results on social media.

It proved a tremendous success, especially for Team Camden, who were crowned the overall champions after four weeks of intense action.

Now the 2020-21 campaign has also started online with the launch of the Nike X LYG Virtual Cross-Country.

Youngsters from across the capital complete a set distance depending on their age group, and then submit their time via the London Youth Games website to earn points for their borough.

Points are scored for participation and performance, so all young Londoners can help their borough climb the leaderboard. The winning team will be revealed shortly after the event is finished on Sunday, December 6.

“It was obviously really disappointing that the cross-country couldn’t take place as normal,” said Team Camden’s manager Ben Dorsett, who works for Camden Council’s Sport and Physical Activity Service. “It’s a fantastic showpiece, and we’re really proud that it’s held on our patch. We look forward to seeing thousands of young people racing around Parliament Hill Fields again as soon as possible.

“But the action hasn’t stopped, it’s just moved online. There’s just over a week left to take part in the virtual cross-country, so we’re urging as many young athletes as possible to get online and get involved.”

The virtual cross-country is open to all young Londoners, who will compete across four age groups: Under-11s, Under-13s, Under-15s and Under-17s.

Youngsters who also upload proof and photos of their times will be entered into a leaderboard for their respective age group.

• Visit www.londonyouthgames.org for further details.

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