New research released this week by the Children’s Society showing English children are among the unhappiest in the world at school makes for “worrying reading” according to leading Youth Sport Trust (YST) chief executive, Ali Oliver.

The report adds further weight to the YST’s strong belief that greater focus is needed on supporting the wellbeing of young people as they progress through school and the vital role that physical activity, high quality physical education (PE) and school sport can have.

The findings, which are outlined in the Children’s Society’s annual Good Childhood report, paint an alarming picture of children’s experiences at school in England, and their wider sense of wellbeing.

An estimated half a million 10- and 12-year-olds are physically bullied at school. The study also reveals that children in England are particularly unhappy about their appearance. Girls came bottom in terms of satisfaction with their appearance and self-confidence compared with girls elsewhere (with the exception of South Korea).

This international survey reinforces just how important the mission of the YST is to build a brighter future for young people through PE and school sport.

The YST’s extensive research illustrates the significant impact PE, school sport and physical activity have on enhancing emotional wellbeing, an essential ingredient for success in the classroom and in life. With declining wellbeing, this is a priority area for the charity.

A key success for the YST has been Girls Active, which has helped tackle the negative attitude that girls have towards their body image. A pilot of the initiative saw the number of girls who are happy with the way their body looks more than double from 25% to 56%. In addition, the percentage of girls that felt positive about school rose from 24% to 78%. This demonstrates the power of PE and sport to improve wellbeing and this is the message that we must continue to spread in order to help tackle this wellbeing crisis amongst young people.

The Class of 2035 Report launched in June this year presented both worrying and optimistic outlooks for future generations. It highlighted the importance of embracing technology in a positive way and explored an innovative “new” approach to PE whereby the subject delivers emotional and social literacy as well as physical. Like the Good Childhood report, the Class of 2035 survey highlighted a worrying decline in children’s wellbeing but it also told us that, by taking action now, we can help ensure a generation which is “fit-for-purpose”.

That is why it is now more important than ever to champion the vital role of PE, school sport and physical activity to enhance physical health, boost mental wellbeing, build resilience, lift academic achievement and create active habits for life. It is a view supported by the Department for Education (DfE) and Public Health England (PHE), with both having produced guidance for school leaders on the value of promoting physical activity and wellbeing in order to support achievement and attainment.

YST chief executive, Ali Oliver, said: “The Children’s Society report makes for worrying reading and sadly reinforces our concerns about the fragile state of wellbeing that many young people face.

“We tirelessly promote how PE, school sport and physical activity make a unique contribution to pupils’ wellbeing and is the most powerful subject in terms of its impact on both physical and emotional health.
Northamptonshire schools pioneer plans to improve wellbeing through PE
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“We are already seeing the impact of new approaches to the delivery of PE and school sport through our network of health and wellbeing schools and we are advocating that PE teachers, with appropriate support and training, can make a real difference to young people’s achievement elsewhere in school life.”

“The YST is demonstrating real commitment in this area. Last month, we launched the PE2020 Active Healthy Minds programme to improve the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of young people, aged 11 to 18, across Northamptonshire. Working alongside Northamptonshire county council and in partnership with Northamptonshire Sport, the programme will see all secondary PE departments introduce a new approach to the teaching of PE which delivers explicit health, wellbeing and achievement outcomes.”


The Australian Rugby Union today announced Geraint John will leave his role as Australian Director of Rugby Sevens and Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens Head Coach at the end of the month for family reasons and will return to the UK.

In addition to his current role as Head Coach of the Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens team, Tim Walsh will assume responsibility for the Men’s program in a temporary capacity until a suitable replacement for the Head Coach position is appointed.

The current Australian Sevens coaching structure, including recently appointed set-piece and contact coach John Manenti, will continue to contribute across both Sevens programs. Scott Bowen, meanwhile, will be elevated to the position of Sevens Performance Program Manager, taking on overall program responsibilities held by Geraint John.

Ben Whitaker, General Manager – Pathways and Performance at the Australian Rugby Union, said: “While obviously we are sad to lose Geraint, we respect his decision entirely. We do, however, have the right structure in place to ensure this won’t negatively impact either the Men’s or Women’s players or the program in general. In fact, given all coaching staff including Tim [Walsh] have already worked with the Men’s squad in some detail, we are extremely confident we will maintain the program’s momentum and development until a new coach is appointed.

“Scott Bowen will assume expanded responsibilities as Australian Sevens Program Manager while we are also fortunate to have one of the most experienced Team Managers on the World Series circuit in Luca Liussi to ensure a seamless transition.”

Geraint John was appointed to the role with the Australian Sevens program in June 2014 after succeeding Michael O’Connor and within a month led the country to a Bronze Medal at the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Under the guidance of John, Australian finished the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series in fifth spot, 12 points behind fourth-placed England.

The Australian Rugby Union will commence its search for a new Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens Head Coach with immediate effect.

Ahye leads T&T trio into women’s 100 semis

“I came here for one purpose and one purpose only. It's to be on that podium.”

Michelle-Lee Ahye was brimming over with confidence after her opening round run in the IAAF World Championship women's 100 metres dash, here in Beijing, China, yesterday. And the Trinidad and Tobago sprint star had good reason, winning heat three in 10.98 seconds, into a 1.2 metres per second headwind.

“I'm actually in shock to see that time,” Ahye told the Express, “because my coach said to execute the first 40 (metres) and then look to see if I'm in a good position. I did that, I shut it down, looked at the time…I was like wow. It just shows I'm in shape and ready to run.”

Ahye runs in the third and final semi-final heat at 7.54 this morning (TT time). Among her rivals in the race will be Jamaica's 2007 100m world champion Veronica Campbell-Brown. But Ahye is fully fit again, following a troublesome leg injury, and ready for the challenge.

“After that injury it got me enough rest to build back my body and stuff. I'm good,” Ahye declared, “a hundred per cent healthy.”

Ahye's T&T teammates, Kelly-Ann Baptiste and Semoy Hackett will also be on show in the semis. At 7.47am, Baptiste squares off against American Tori Bowie in the second semi. And in the opener, scheduled for 7.40, Hackett takes on Jamaica's defending world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Nigerian Blessing Okagbare.

The top two in each heat will progress to the 9.35am final.

In round one, Baptiste looked very comfortable in winning heat six in 11.13 seconds. The T&T sprint star was also at the Bird's Nest Stadium in 2008, representing T&T at the Olympic Games.

“I have a lot of things in the back of my head. One of them is that I came here in 2008 and didn't do as well as I wanted to, so I'm just embracing the opportunity to compete. For me it's making the final, and once I do that, I feel like everything is possible. Everybody in the eight lanes has an equal chance to run well, so I'm just focused on making it to the final.”

For Baptiste, the experience at the last IAAF World Championships was not a happy one. She left Moscow, Russia in disgrace after it was revealed that she had a positive drug test in April, 2013. After serving a 21-month ban, the Florida-based sprinter returned to competition in February this year.

“Sometimes, because of media, public,” Baptiste told the Express, “it's always going to come up. But for me personally, it's behind me. The way I've performed this year testifies that hard work and training is all I've been doing. Given the unfortunate circumstances, I was in that position, but I feel great knowing I was able to come back, replicate my performances from years past. In that sense, it's completely behind me.”

Hackett is also enjoying a successful comeback season on the heels of a drug ban. She returned to the track in June, following a 28-month suspension.

In heat five, yesterday, Hackett clocked 11.16 seconds, equalling her season's best and securing second spot in the race, behind Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers (11.01).

“I don't feel much pressure,” Hackett told the Express. “I think the 200 is my better shot, but I didn't want to go straight into the 200, so I said let me try the 100, see how I feel, and then it would probably pump my esteem to go into the 200.”


Cedenio, Quow, Lalonde, McKnight in semis

Trinidad and Tobago scored a perfect three from three in the first round of the IAAF World Championship men's 400 metres event, at the Bird's Nest Stadium here in Beijing, China, yesterday.

Machel Cedenio, Renny Quow and Lalonde Gordon all advanced to the semi-final round, and will be back on the track today, bidding for championship race lanes.

Cedenio did not expect to run as fast as he did in the opening round. He had no choice, however, but to turn it on coming home. Trailing the heat one front-runners at the top of the straight, the 19-year-old's customary strong finish propelled him into second spot in 44.54 seconds. American David Verburg won in 44.43.

“I was surprised,” Cedenio told the Express. “Normally first round is 45. I actually ran my second fastest time in the prelims.”

The 2014 world junior champion was even more surprised by what happened in heat two. He paused during the interview to enquire about the time that had been clocked. Both the winner, Saudi Arabia's Yousef Ahmed Masrahi and second-placed Rusheen McDonald of Jamaica ran 43.93.

“Yuh lie,” Cedenio exclaimed in disbelief. “Just crazy. It's a fast track.”

Sporting a lot of facial hair, yesterday, the Florida-based quarter-miler explained his reason for not shaving.

“I just try to keep it rough to know that I'm coming out here to war.”

If the first round times are anything to go by, Wednesday's one-lap final could well be the ultimate athletics battlefield.

Like Cedenio, Quow was pushed to the second fastest time of his career in his opening outing. Running in the sixth and final heat, the 2009 World Championship bronze medallist finished second in 44.54 seconds, behind South Africa's Wayde van Niekirk (44.42).

“I thought it would have been a little bit slower,” said Quow.”

In a repeat of the 2012 Olympic final result, Gordon was third in heat four. The London Games bronze medallist clocked 44.97 seconds to trail Grenadian Olympic champion Kirani James (44.56) and Dominican Republic's silver medallist Luguelin Santos (44.62).

Gordon told the Express he was satisfied with his first round effort.

“I ain't run in two weeks, so I was a little rusty this morning, but it was a good run. Right now the confidence is high. Just try and make the final, and once I'm in anything could happen.”

In order to face the starter in the championship race, Gordon must successfully negotiate the second of three semi-final heats. At 8.13am, he will do battle with Masrahi, McDonald and another sub-44 quarter-miler, Botswana's Isaac Makwala.

Quow will be on the track at 8.05, taking on James, Santos and Verburg in heat one.

And at 8.21, in heat three, Cedenio tackles reigning world champion LaShawn Merritt of the United States, as well as van Niekirk and Jamaica's Javon Francis.

Only the top two in each heat will advance automatically to the final.

Coming off the final bend in the opening women's 400m hurdles first round heat, Sparkle McKnight was well-placed to challenge for one of the four automatic qualifying berths up for grabs. And qualify she did, the T&T athlete finishing second in 55.77 seconds. Jamaica's Kaliese Spencer won the race in 55.03, while third spot went to Sweden's Elise Malmberg (55.97).

McKnight, who clocked a personal best 55.41 seconds in seizing silver at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Championships in Costa Rica earlier this month, was pleased with yesterday's run.

“I felt comfortable. I kept saying in my head, 'Sparkle just be patient, just be patient, don't focus on anybody else in your race and bring it home'.”

McKnight has come on strong in recent weeks, finishing fifth at the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, and following up with the NACAC silver.

“What has accounted for that is my daughter most of all. I had a lot of obstacles this year, and yes it's now pulling through for me, but the beginning of the year I wanted to give up. Friends, family told me not to, so I'm really blessed to be here.”

At 7.18 this morning (TT time), McKnight will face the starter in the second of three semi-final heats.

“I really don't have any goal. I just want to take it round by round, execute the best way I can, the best way my coach told me to, and the results would come.”

A top-two finish in her semi-final would earn McKnight an automatic berth in the championship race.

Meanwhile, Keshorn Walcott is hoping for precious metal here in Beijing. The reigning Olympic men's javelin champion has thrown 90.16 metres this season, and seems set to be a medal contender.

But before Walcott can think about challenging for a podium finish in Wednesday's final, he must successfully negotiate today's qualifying competition. He will be the 10th man to throw in Group “A”.

The immediate target for Walcott is the 83.00m automatic qualifying distance. It may seem a simple enough task for the 90-metre man, but the 22-year-old Toco field athlete is nursing an ankle injury which limited him to an 83.27m golden throw at the Pan Am Games.

If he is able to compete unhampered by the injury, Walcott should enjoy a comfortable passage to the final.


TRINIDAD and Tobago will be led by a Canadian when the senior team events of the Caribbean Regional Badminton Championships (CAREBACO) serve off today in the Dominican Republic.
Nicholas Bonkowsky, a Canadian whose mother hails from this country, is the key member of the team, which also consists of Alistair Espinoza, Leanna Castanada, Avril Plaza and Jason Ramjass.
However 2006 CAC (Central America and the Caribbean) Games gold-medallist Solangel Guzman is not on the team.
Cuba-born Guzman has been living over here for over four years, but is still in the process of becoming a citizen and can only represent the country in individual events.
Guzman, who is coaching the team, struck gold in women’s singles in last year’s edition of this tournament and will be defending her title from Wednesday.
Bonkowsky, who was crowned national champion in only his third tournament here a few months ago, was this country’s only badminton representative in the Pan American Games in Canada last month.
Espinoza picked up a bronze medal in doubles in this tournament last year, while Castanada, who returned from “Nationals” after being out of action for about a year, Plaza and Ramjass are also former national junior champs.
Each fixture will consist of five matches – men’s and women’s singles and doubles as well as a mixed doubles encounter.
The individual events, which also include Under-11, 13, 15 and 17 categories, will be contested from Wednesday until Saturday and T&T will also be represented in all four junior disciplines.
All six T&T players – Will Lee, Adrian Nicholson, Renaldo Sinanan, Jada Renales, Brittney Mohammed and Ralitsa Wong – were bundled out early in the Under-19 events, which served off last Wednesday.


Borel's medal bid halted by freak injury

Achieving her best-ever IAAF World Championship finish was no consolation for Cleopatra Borel as a freak injury put paid to her chances of earning a top-eight spot and a shot at a medal, at the Bird's Nest Stadium here in Beijing, China, yesterday.

Competing at the World Championships for the sixth time, Borel was 12th in the women's shot put final, improving on her previous best finish—13th in the 2011 final in Daegu, Korea.

Severely hampered by a finger injury, sustained while warming up for her medal bid, Borel was very flat and could only manage a 17.43 metres effort.

“I hurt my finger warming up and that was it,” a bitterly disappointed Borel told the Sunday Express. “Something happened and it separated my fingers. It was just kind of a freak thing. I was doing what I always do and the shot just came out my hand bad. I couldn't throw after that.

“It's something that's happened before,” the Trinidad and Tobago athlete explained. “In the past it was just on this portion of my finger, but now I feel pain in the middle of my hand so hopefully it's nothing too serious.”

Borel produced the 17.43m throw in round one. Very unhappy with her next effort, the 2015 Pan American Games champion deliberately stepped on the stop board for a foul. And in round three, she landed the shot just 16.85m, ensuring early elimination from the final.

Germany's Christina Schwanitz grabbed gold with a 20.37m throw. Lijiao Gong (20.30m) earned silver for the host nation, while bronze went to American Michelle Carter (19.76m).

Borel went into the World Championships in fourth spot on the 2015 world outdoor performance list at 19.26m.

“I've had so many good meets this year, and when it counted the most it felt like my body let me down, so it's tough,” said the 36-year-old thrower, fighting back the emotions on a day that promised much but delivered little.

At the end of yesterday's qualifying competition, Borel was in buoyant mood. She had thrown 18.55m to secure an automatic berth in the final, the quality effort earning her sixth spot.

Borel had an ordinary start in the qualifying event, throwing the iron ball 17.01m.

“I don't even know what happened there. I was trying to not rush and not be stressed, and I was just so slow and deliberate and not like myself, so I had to remember to go after it.”

And that she did in round two. Following a chat with her coach, Ismael Lopez Mastrapa, Borel went well past the 18.30m automatic qualifying mark. The 18.55m effort was a big confidence booster ahead of the final.

“You know my history with qualifying. I had to work extremely hard to have that kind of throw under my belt when necessary, so I'm really really happy that I can do it for myself and for my coach and for the whole team…start things right for the team, and come back this afternoon and hopefully do well again.”

Unfortunately, the freak warm-up injury scuppered Borel's plans.