The Olympics and the Paralympics are the best-known arms of the Olympic movement and are concerned solely with competition for elite athletes.
The Special Olympics is the third and less well-known arm of the Olympic family but just as important. It began in 1968 in America. Since then it has become an international movement with over 169 countries involved and provides sporting opportunities for those with intellectual (learning) disabilities of all ability levels from the age of 8 upwards. It has worldwide approximately 4.7 million athletes.
Every four years Special Olympics Great Britain stages one of the UK’s largest sporting events. This year the National Games were held in Sheffield from the 7th to the 12th August. 2600 athletes took part supported by 800 coaches, 1000 volunteers and 200 officials. It is estimated that 700 family and friends came to support the Games.
In 2017, as a result of the £2,000 donation given from the L Factor proceeds, we helped the team to achieve their best ever medal haul.
Leicestershire & Rutland entered 73 athletes in the National Games. 30 volunteers and sports coaches supported the athletes. They competed in a wide array of sports including swimming, athletics, basketball, bowls, gymnastics, table tennis, tennis and the MATP (Motor Activity Training Programme) for athletes with more severe disabilities.
Sadly our cycling squad had to withdraw following the theft of their adapted bikes shortly before the start of the Games, which meant they were unable to compete.
Medals and more
It was only when we got back to Leicester that we were able to assess our sporting success. It transpired that between them our 66 athletes had won 74 gold, silver and bronze medals; a very good outcome and a tribute to our athletes and their coaches. However, above all else Special Olympics is about friendship and participation, in this respect all our athletes were winners.
Many thanks for your support
The total cost of getting our athletes and volunteers to this years National Games was in the region of £45,000. Finding the money involved a considerable amount of fund raising over the last two years. As we approached the Games we realized we had some important ‘funding gaps’ and the donation of £2,000 from yourselves was of great assistance at a crucial moment.
The MATP squad needed special care, accommodation and transport arrangements due to the nature of their disabilities. This added considerably to their costs. We used £1400 from your donation towards the their costs and it was greatly appreciated by them
The balance of the money (£600) went to our basketball squad which with 25 players supported by 8 volunteers was struggling to find the money to pay the costs for so many people.
On behalf of the athletes you have supported and Special Olympics Leicestershire and Rutland I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ for your support.