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St Andrews primary pupils have taken part in a series of sporting challenges at the University of St Andrews this month, giving them a taste of the upcoming Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The 600 young athletes were hosted by the University in partnership with the nationwide initiative, Active Schools: Road to Rio, which encourages young people to get active by trying a range of Olympic sports.

University sports coaches and sporty local volunteers guided the P4 to P7 pupils through games, challenges and activity sessions, from doing the shot put with tennis balls and using bean bags for target practice to learning the technique to the long jump and mini hurdling. The young athletes also tried out athletics, netball, tennis, rugby and football, which will all be Olympic sports in Rio.

Kirkcaldy based para-athlete, Derek Rae, also volunteered his time and shared his sporting expertise with the kids. He represented Great Britain in the marathon for the 2015 IPC World Championships and hopes to be selected for the Rio 2016 Paralympic team.

Derek said: “I’m happy to do what I can to get kids active. It’s great to see kids smiling, enjoying it, and tiring themselves out.”

Those taking part were supported and encouraged by older pupils from Madras College who volunteered to help at the sports day to develop their leadership skills.

Fergus Knight, Marketing and Business Development Manager for Sport and Exercise at the University of St Andrews, said: “It has been fantastic to see so many young pupils take part in our Road to Rio sports day. Their enthusiasm and energy knows no bounds.

“The University’s community engagement programme is hugely important, both for getting our young local population active and into sport at a young age, and also for the personal development of our University students, who gain coaching experience that is different from the roles they might undertake within their own teams and clubs.

“This past year we have undertaken 35 different projects and our students have volunteered over 1,500 hours of their time to help young people into sport. We’re hoping to grow this even further next year.”

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Young people interested in trying out new sports or getting involved in activities that they already enjoy can take part in the University’s Junior Saints sports programme. Sports sessions run throughout the year in St Andrews, with summer holiday sports camps running weekly from 4 July until 12 August for children aged between 3 and 11.


Notes to news editor

The 12 St Andrews primary schools which took part were: Balmerino, Canongate, Greyfriars RC, Guardbridge, Kingsbarns, Largoward, Lawhead, Leuchars, Newport, Strathkinness, Tayport and Wormit.


About Active Schools: Road to Rio

Active Schools is a sportscotland led programme designed to encourage children and young people to get active and stay active. sportscotland works in partnership with local authorities and associated partners.

The Active Schools network in Fife increases the activity levels of children and young people by:

  • ensuring there are more and higher quality opportunities to participate in sport within schools
  • increasing capacity through the recruitment and support of volunteers to deliver the activity sessions in schools
  • motivating and inspiring young people to participate in sport

About sport at the University of St Andrews

In early January 2015, the University began a major £14m redevelopment and extension of its sports facilities. Phase 1, which saw the construction of a new eight-court Sports Arena, a new spacious reception area and 10 new changing rooms, is now complete and opened to the public in January 2016.

The new Sports Arena will house the majority of our indoor sports clubs and can be setup as two separate courts, with each half catering for badminton (4 courts), volleyball (1 court), basketball (1 court) and netball (1 court), and with additional rigging installed for the provision of trampoline equipment. Alternatively, the main arena can be used in a single court format to host and showcase elite level sport and offers removable seating for 400 and the highest quality audio and lighting.

With the completion of the arena, work has now moved to Phase 2 and the refurbishment, extension and modernisation of the old Sports Centre building, which was constructed in 1968 when the student body was fewer than 2000. Today, the student population exceeds 8500 and we enjoy one of the highest participation rates of any university in the UK.

In order to cater for growing student numbers and the increased demand on our indoor facilities, Phase 2 will see the gym and fitness suite expand to roughly double its current size and the old gymnasium turned into a specialist strength and conditioning suite for our performance teams and athletes. Phase 2 is due to be completed by September 2016.

The final phase of the redevelopment will see a four-court indoor tennis centre constructed adjacent to the Sports Centre and plans are also underway for building a new boathouse, off-site.

These new facilities will deliver not only significantly greater capacity to our users, but the opportunity to participate in a far wider variety of sports at higher levels.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office, contactable on 01334 462530 or proffice@st-andrews.ac.uk.

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