A STRING of county prospects have been selected to compete at the School Games National Finals at Loughborough University from Thursday.

Deanna Clarke, Abigail Watkins, Matt Richards and Henry Talbot are among those to be picked.

Clarke, of Worcester's Nunnery Wood High School and Worcester Rugby Club, has been chosen for the England Midlands sevens team.

Fellow 15-year-old Watkins, of Royal Grammar School Worcester and Malvern Hills Sword Fencing Club, will compete for Wales.

Droitwich Spa's Richards, 14, who studies and swims at Royal School Wolverhampton, is to turn out for England Central.

Evesham's Talbot, 18, of Prince Henry’s High School and Shakespeare’s Swords Fencing Club in Stratford, will be representing Wales too.

The finals, running until Sunday, September 3, involve the United Kingdom’s best school-age athletes.

Around 1,600 will compete across 12 sports at the games with seven disability disciplines.

The event is supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust.

Athletes hope to follow in the footsteps of some of Great Britain’s biggest stars who have competed at the games before enjoying senior international success including Olympic champion swimmer Adam Peaty.

They will live in a dedicated athletes’ village on the campus, take part in an opening ceremony and perform in front of huge crowds.

Epee fencer Watkins is ranked fifth under 20s competitor and 10th senior for GB as well as Welsh number two overall.

She said: “I had to give up football so I could commit to fencing which I was worried about to start with but it’s definitely turned out for the best.”

Fellow fencer Talbot was last year's Welsh under 16s champion.

“One of the most inspiring sporting events I saw was when Andy Murray won Wimbledon for the first time because it shows that hard work and determination pays off no matter what sport you play,” he said.

Former Worcester Swimming Club member and Bishop Perowne College pupil Richards bagged five gold medals in this year's British Summer Championships.

He said: “The London 2012 Olympics inspired me.

"It was incredible to have this iconic sporting event in our country, allowing me to watch lots of different sports and see the very highest levels of competition.”

“The finals provide a great opportunity for talented young athletes like these,” said Ali Oliver, chief executive officer of the Youth Sport Trust.

“Competitors get a real taste of what it’s like to be part of a world-class sporting event at the amazing sporting venue of Loughborough University and the event is a great way to see our future sporting champions in action today.”

Tickets for the event are available at ticketsource.co.uk/2017schoolgames.