It was a family affair at the Balfour Beatty London Youth Games cross-country competition as brother and sister Oscar and Saskia Millard both won their individual races, while Wandsworth also claimed gold in the overall girls’ team event.
The first event of the new season saw a record 1,114 young Londoners compete at Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath following in the footsteps of double Olympic champion Mo Farah who placed ninth in the U13 boys’ race at the 1994 London Youth Games.
Ten-year-old Oscar won the boys’ U11 development race over 1,500m and cheered on from the top step of the podium as his 12-year-old sister Saskia battled home down the finishing straight to win the U13s girls race over 2km.
The Balham Park siblings were delighted with their success, for Saskia it crowned a brilliant week where she met another athletics golden girl.
“I met Jessica Ennis at my teacher’s award ceremony for PE Teacher of the Year this week” she said.
“I took a photo of her, which I am very proud of.”
On her own success, she said: “Representing my borough makes me very proud and excited especially in the year of the Olympics.
“For this event, I have been training twice a week with my coach James McDonald at Herne Hill Harriers. I also train with a really good group of all abilities aged 10 to 18. I have been running since I was nine. I got my first medal in the Mini Marathon for Wandsworth.
“I think hills are my main strength, so I decided to start up the hill quite fast and run it hard and keep it at a steady pace for the rest of the race.”
Brother Oscar said: “I was aiming for a medal, but I wasn’t expecting gold. The Olympics has inspired me – Mo Farah inspired me to train harder and give it my all. I am excited to have won for Wandsworth – I have done my team proud.”
Last summer, Wandsworth finished second overall in the London Youth Games losing out on the Jubilee Trophy by a single point to Croydon. Though there is still 80 competitions to go, cross country Team Manager Anne-Marie Osmonde was pleased with the winning start the girls’ team made.
She said: “This stands us in good stead for the season. We missed out on the top spot by one point last year, so we’re pushing on for the rest of the year – game on! The guys have put in some fantastic training for this event, they work so hard every year so I am really pleased for them.”
The boys team placed a creditable 10th out of the 32 boroughs who took part in the competition. Team GB Olympic marathon runner and former London Youth Games competitor Scott Overall presented the prizes.
The London Youth Games is Europe’s largest annual youth sports event with 104,463 participants across 80 competitions and 30 sports in 2012.
There were 43 former London Youth Games competitors who took part in the London Olympic and Paralympic Games winning 14 medals, including Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins and David Weir.