HUNDREDS of youngsters were not put off by the drizzling rain and grey skies as they gathered for a colourful ceremony to launch the Saddleworth Village Olympics 2018.
Around 1,000 children aged seven to 16 are expected to take part in 12 sports over three weeks of competition, representing the 13 Saddleworth villages.
The event got off to a rather wet start on Saturday, September 8 as children, parents, supporters and organisers turned out at Saddleworth School for the launch.
The children paraded around carrying the banners of their villages, as well as a host of eye-catching mascots including giant teddy bears and flags.
The Olympics oath was read by Dylan Reading, competing on behalf of Delph and Denshaw, and the games were officially opened by Richard Foster, chairman of Saddleworth Round Table.
The Round Table has generously donated £1,280 to the Olympics for the purchase of medals for every single participant.
Then after a rallying count-down, children released colourful balloons and watched them drift high into the grey skies.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Adrian Green, co-chairman of the Olympics, said: “12 months ago this was like a swimming pool and we had to cancel the opening ceremony.
“I looked out of my window this morning and I was a bit nervous we would have to do the same thing – but we managed to go ahead.”
He thanked local businesses and sponsors for their support, children and parents for getting involved, and the team of dedicated volunteers who work very hard for free to put on the event.
Saddleworth School is the main venue for sports over the coming weeks, with events also taking place at Churchill Playing Fields, Saddleworth Pool, Tame Valley Tennis & Squash Club, Saddleworth Rangers and Uppermill Sports Club.
There are a few changes in store this year including hockey now being a fully-fledged sport for children aged between 10 and 13 years, after a successful trial last year.
Tug of war makes its bow and the trophy has been named in memory of former chairman Ben Hilton who was a major figure in running the Olympics from 2000-2010. It will be presented to the winners by Ben’s wife Bev.
This year, there will be overall winners in both junior and senior categories for the first time, giving villages two chances to win trophies.
The organisers are in the process of canvassing opinion from parents and participants about the future of the event and all are asked to complete a brief survey online: https://goo.gl/forms/8M5sYv6B8vFY8udq1
For a full schedule of events and more information, go online: www.saddleworthvillageolympics.co.uk