CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

‘I wish I had some BMX teammates!’

Georgia goes it alone to bag a bronze, as thrilling London Youth Games events get under way

22 July, 2021 — By Steve Barnett

Camden’s Georgia Surtees on her way to scoring points at the Hayes BMX track

WHEN it comes to seeing the very best athletes giving it their all in a quest for medals and glory, there is only one place to look: the London Youth Games.

Europe’s largest youth sport festival is extending the summer fun this year after being forced to cut the 2020 Games short due to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.

That means kids from across the capital still have plenty to look forward to, including kayak slalom and sprint events, road cycling and archery.

There will also be three multi-sport “Hub Weekends” taking place in August and September featuring netball, hockey, football, cricket and beach volleyball.

And for Team Camden the medal count is already underway after Georgia Surtees bagged a bronze in the BMX competition, which was held at Hayes Hawks BMX Track in west London earlier this month.

Georgia with her medal

The speedy eight-year-old more than conquered the course as she made her debut in the female novice 9 to 10 Year category. And what makes the achievement even more remarkable is that Georgia was Camden’s sole entry in the BMX event. The borough doesn’t have a local BMX club or a specialist track, so Georgia has to train in Ealing.

“I’m really proud of myself, but also wished I had other teammates,” said Georgia, who lives in Swiss Cottage.

“I was nervous because it was my first race and because the track was so big. But it was exciting, too, because it was such a big challenge, and I love racing.”

Team Camden’s manager, Ben Dorsett, who works for Camden Council’s Sport and Physical Activity Service, said: “We’re absolutely chuffed to win a medal, Georgia did a fantastic job.

“Normally the Youth Games wrap up for the season in July, so the fact that we still have so many sports disciplines ahead is new territory.

Islington’s tennis squad, from left, sisters Alexandra and Valentina Bonilla, and Leo Sosmilo and Leo Maksimovic

“We, of course, want to win more medals. But after the last 18 months it’s just great to see the kids competing again.

“The important thing now is getting as many young people as possible involved in the remaining events.”

Georgia’s heroic efforts helped Team Camden finish in 17th place overall in the BMX, one place below neighbouring rivals Islington, who didn’t medal but did manage to sign two riders up for the event.

Chance O’Leary finished sixth in the male expert 15 to 16 Year category, while Henry Dale was seventh in the male novice 7 to 8 Year competition.

But while Team Islington missed out on a medal in the BMX, they did secure a bronze in the tennis, which was held in Ealing in June.

Henry Dale riding for Team Islington

Regionalised into “East” and “West” divisions to comply with Covid-19 capacity rules, Islington were one of 10 teams vying for a place on the podium.

And the awesome foursome of sisters Alexandra and Valentina Bonilla, and Leo Sosmilo and Leo Maksimovic gave it their all as they battled to a deserved third place.

Daniel Bank, Islington’s London Youth Games team manager, said: “We’re back taking part in real-life sports events again and winning medals, which is so great to see. It’s a shame the basketball competition got cancelled because of the weather. But we’ve really enjoyed the tennis and the BMX competitions.

“Now we’re looking forward to the kayak and road cycling events which are up next.”

• To find out more about competing for Camden email Ben at Ben.Dorsett@camden.gov.uk, while youngsters in Islington can email Daniel at Daniel.Bank@GLL.ORG

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