‘Superb support got us through three long days ‘

Tilly Gurney competing in the team pursuit competition at the National Cycling Centre, Manchester, during the Sainsbury's School Games.  Photo by Tim Bryett.
Tilly Gurney competing in the team pursuit competition at the National Cycling Centre, Manchester, during the Sainsbury's School Games. Photo by Tim Bryett.

The School Games was run like the Olympics involving 1,600 athletes from 12 UK regions, para athletes from across the country and a team from Brazil competing in 12 sports.

The four-day event began with an opening ceremony with Olympic GB athletes including Katerina Johnson-Thompson and Ellie Simmons who set the tone for an exciting weekend of sporting achievement.

Spalding Cycling Club's Tilly Gurney competing at the Sainsbury's School Games in Manchester.  Photo by Tim Bryett.

Spalding Cycling Club's Tilly Gurney competing at the Sainsbury's School Games in Manchester. Photo by Tim Bryett.

I was lucky enough to be selected to ride for the East Midlands track cycling team, one of four girls in a fantastic team of eight.

The team members, our team managers and our team attaché (a selected rider who was unfortunately injured just before the event and unable to compete) became my family for the weekend, and supported me throughout the event in the best way possible.

We had three long days of competition, and we had to deal with early mornings and late nights. Being a typical teenager, I’m not a morning person, so the many wheel bags became a make-shift bed for the whole team, taking up much of our pit.

Another thing that helped me, and the whole team, through the weekend, was the unfailing and unfaltering support from the official East Midlands fan club (AKA our families).

Tilly Gurney (in white skinsuit) in the qualification heat of the Keirin.  Photo by Tim Bryett.

Tilly Gurney (in white skinsuit) in the qualification heat of the Keirin. Photo by Tim Bryett.

Undeniably the loudest and most excited group in the velodrome, their cheering spurred us on to achieve the best we could in our events, and gave us such a rush of adrenaline. We can never thank them enough.

After three days of racing, the team came away with seventh 
overall. I was pleased with my own performance, I qualified for the 
final of the Keirin, my favourite race, and competed against the 
national champion.

A closing ceremony finished the weekend, in which we heard more speakers from Team GB. Most noticeable for us was Olympic cyclist Joanna Rowsell, who spoke about determination and achievement in our sporting careers. We left the velodrome as a team, and as great friends.

Spalding High School cyclist Tilly Gurney.  Photo by Tim Bryett.

Spalding High School cyclist Tilly Gurney. Photo by Tim Bryett.

In the 80-lap Madison team race, the handsling from Maddy Gammons to put Tilly into the race.  Photo by Tim Bryett.

In the 80-lap Madison team race, the handsling from Maddy Gammons to put Tilly into the race. Photo by Tim Bryett.