NINE hundred young athletes will converge on Crystal Palace National Sports Centre on Sunday to battle it out for honours at the British schools biathlon championships.

The annual competition is organised by Pentathlon GB, the national governing body for the Olympic sport of modern pentathlon, and one of its goals is to encourage more young people to participate in multi-sport competitions.

This weekend’s championships are the climax of a series of semi-finals around the country.

Young athletes compete in 16 different classes, based on school year and gender.

They range from Year 5 to Year 13 and there’s also a competition for teachers.

Some of the country’s brightest young multi-sport prospects have competed in the British schools’ biathlon championships in the past.

Jamie Cooke, for instance, came fifth in the Year 12 & 13 boys' final in 2008 before going on to win the modern pentathlon world junior championships in Argentina last November.

All of the competitors will take part in a run and a swim, with a gap between them, like in the modern pentathlon, rather than in sequence, as in the triathlon.

The athletes tackle a 50m swim and a 500m run or a 100m swim and 1000m run, depending on their age group.

They will also have opportunities to have a go at fencing and shooting sessions.

Sue Hyde, Pentathlon GB’s national competitions and events manager, said: “The schools biathlon championships provide a fantastic opportunity for young people to participate in a multi-sports challenge.

“In an Olympic year, it’s particularly important for modern pentathlon that we try to inspire young people and encourage them to take part in the sport.

“Britain has an impressive track record in modern pentathlon, and it’s possible some of the young people competing at Crystal Palace on Sunday will go on to represent Great Britain in the sport at a future Olympic Games.”

The action gets underway at 9.30am and the last of the finals should be completed by 5pm.

Reports of the championships will features on the Pentathlon GB website at

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