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Olympians light up Magic Round in Newcastle

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Muswellbrook-born Olympian Simon Orchard will return “home” this week to cheer on 700 of the state’s best primary school athletes at Magic Round.

The much-acclaimed Kookaburra, along with Australian stars Natalie Burton, Kate Jenner and Zoe Newman, are slated to be in Newcastle, as the city plays host to the NSW Public Schools Sports Association boys and girls state hockey and basketball championships.

The prestigious event begins with an opening ceremony at Newcastle Basketball Stadium on Tuesday 28 May.

The boys and girls hockey championships will feature 364 talented primary-aged players in the state, representing each of the different regions.

Orchard, a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, will join Hockeyroos Kate Jenner and Zoe Newman as the youngsters contest the pool rounds and finals at the Newcastle International Hockey Centre in Broadmeadow.

At Newcastle Basketball Stadium, 280 players are vying for the state championship in both boys and girls competitions with Opals star Burton courtside in support.

Executive director of the NSW Department of Education’s School Sport Unit Dr Sylvia Corish said having the Olympians in town to support the championships was a massive thrill for the young athletes and for the adults, too.

“Natalie, Simon, Kate and Zoe are here as part of the Olympics Unleashed program,” she explained.

“It’s an opportunity for some of our best up-and-coming young athletes to meet an Olympian and talk about the pathways they took on their journey to be among the very best in their chosen sports.”

In addition to the nearly 700 athletes, more than 2,000 supporters are expected to attend the championships.

The finals will take place on Friday 31 May, where the NSW teams to contest the national basketball and hockey titles will also be announced.

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