Cross Country To Launch LYG Season

12th Nov 2021

Thousands set to descend on Hampstead Heath for season opener

An estimated 1500 Young Londoners representing 32 borough teams are set to take to Hampstead Heath on Saturday 20 November as the London Youth Games cross country returns to the iconic Parliament Hill Fields after an absence of two years.

Last year saw a virtual cross country take place where Richmond emerged as the winning borough. But the biggest success was the participation of almost 4000 young people taking part from across the whole of London covering the distance in their own communities and racing virtually. It is anticipated that many who took part last year will return to experience the live in-person event as the new London Youth Games season gets underway.

Races will take place across four age groups for male and female competitors including under 11s, under 13s, under 15s and under 17s with individual, team and overall medals all at stake.

At the end of 2020, there was a national consultation launched over appropriate cross country distances across age groups and genders led by UK Athletics and Home Nation Athletics Associations. The results of which is being considered by England Athletics along with a review of current scientific guidance in this area before a long-term strategy is outlined.

“Cross country is a sport that provides the type of challenge from which every participant can draw a real sense of achievement.”

Andy Dalby-Welsh, Chief Executive of London Youth Games said: “Inclusivity and diversity are foremost in our thinking, planning and delivery in all London Youth Games activities. We consistently strive for constant improvement in this area. LYG has been a real champion of greater participation of females in competitive sport – indeed around 60% of participants in the entire London Youth Games programme are female.

“By working in partnership with bodies like England Athletics, we ensure appropriate level competition for young Londoners. At the conclusion of the consultation, we will review with our partners distances in preparation for 2023 cross country.

“But first and foremost, we are hugely excited at the return of the cross country to our programme this year and at the prospect of hundreds of young Londoners who experienced the virtual event last year enjoying the in-person experience this time round.

“Cross country is a sport that provides the type of challenge from which every participant can draw a real sense of achievement. We believe that sport is a right for all, sport improves physical health and mental well-being and sport is a key driver of social integration – all of which we are sure will be evidenced at the cross country.

“Parliament Hill Fields also offers the type of prestigious London venue that is loved by participants, officials, volunteers, coaches, parents and carers and we are confident it will provide a memorable experience for everyone involved.”

The London Youth Games cross country competition is notable for its rich heritage of participants, with many going on to succeed at the highest level. Through the 1990s, four-times Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah (right) represented Hounslow, former World Triathlon champion Tim Don also represented Hounslow, London 2012 Olympians Julia Bleasdale and Scott Overall also took part, representing Hillingdon and Richmond respectively.

More recently, Tokyo Olympic triathlon gold and silver medallist Alex Yee represented Lewisham from 2010 to 2014, GB international cross country international Sabrina Sinha represented Greenwich from 2011 to 2015, winning gold on every occasion and GB sprinting internationals Finette Agyapong (Newham) and twin sisters Shannon and Cheriece Hylton (Bromley) all represented their borough at the London Youth Games cross country.

All the action gets underway at 10:50, with final presentations at 13:45.