Skipping their way to victory

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ALMOST 300 schoolchildren hopped to the challenge as part of a hotly contested city-wide final.

Youngsters from 10 different Wearside schools battled it out in the fourth annual Sunderland Skipping School final after making it through heats earlier this year.

The fourth annual Sunderland Skipping School finals have been taking place at the City Space campus on Chester Road. Pupils from schools across Wearside have been competing.

The fourth annual Sunderland Skipping School finals have been taking place at the City Space campus on Chester Road. Pupils from schools across Wearside have been competing.

Held at Sunderland University’s City-Space facility in Chester Road, pupils took part in a variety of different disciplines, competing for bronze, silver and gold awards.

Following more than three hours of action, it was Burnside Primary School, from Houghton, who took home the overall award this year.

Children and teachers alike let out cries of joy as they were named the victors.

“I’m absolutely over the moon that we’ve won,” said Burnside teacher Ruth Beattie, who helped her pupils to rehearse routines.

“It’s the third year running that we’ve been in the final, but in the past we’ve always finished runners-up, so to finally win is great.”

Ms Beattie added that since her pupils started training for the event, there had been a noticeable improvement in their health.

“Their fitness has just gone through the roof since we started preparing in January,” she said.

“We’ll definitely be coming back next year to defend the title.”

Skipping School director Chris Corcoran, who runs the organisation alongside daughter Jodi, has cemented the event on Sunderland primary schools’ summer calendar, since first bringing it to the area in 2010.

Chris says skipping helps boost not only the health of children but also their self-esteem, and hailed the 2013 competition as “the best yet”.

“It’s phenomenal. It’s improved each year since we started and the standard just keeps on getting better,” said Chris.

“The kids are getting more and more creative in their routines, and it’s great for people watching.

“It used to be that we would put the children through some routines, but now they’re coming up with them themselves.

“With some of the schools, we used to go and see them at the start of the year, but certain ones have decided they didn’t need us to this year.

“That’s because the momentum has kept going.”

Chris also said that even though there is a strong competitive element to the event, there are opportunities for children of all abilities to get involved.

“You are always going to have some individuals who are great at skipping and some who are not so great,” he added.

“But we want to make sure everyone has a chance, which is why we have team awards as well.”