Sheffield goes for Gold with the hosting of the Special Olympics

About 2,600 athletes in Sheffield are leading the way in showing how sport is an inclusive event. These athletes from Scotland, Wales and England have learning disabilities and are celebrating a week of sporting achievement and glory in the city from 7 to 12 August 2017.

The ‘Highland’ team with their ‘Highland Cow’ mascot

I attended the opening ceremony and was blown away by the sheer energy and excitement of the participants. The 2012 Paralympics were instrumental in opening the nation’s eyes  to the tremendous ability within sport to accommodate people with disability. The Sheffield games possibly carry on the legacy from the Paralympics but with a hugely important difference for the way it demonstrates the ability of ordinary people, both adults and children, to carry on this legacy of empowerment via sport.

Athletics taking place at Sheffield University Stadium
I was interviewed by BBC Radio Sheffield journalist, Jennifer Eels

If sport is about taking part, more centrally, rather than winning then every participant in the Special Olympics is a winner. Having said that the athletes who are winning medals are rightly proud of their achievements too but each participant demonstrates a personal perseverance and bodily endurance that is a constellation of the sparkling spirit that we associate with sport.

It is the largest sporting event in the UK held for people with learning disabilities and is hosted by Special Olympics Great Britain which is a country specific agency for Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports organisation for disabled people.

A Dragon Dance display at the opening ceremony
Some participants are wheelchair bound

The events are free to watch and are taking place at various venues in Sheffield.

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