A TEAM of nine athletes from Redditch have been selected to represent the West Midlands in Special Olympics Great Britain’s National Summer Games.
The week-long event, which is only held every four years, is being hosted by the city of Sheffield and the Redditch contingent will join some 2,600 other athletes to compete.
Featuring 21 sports, the event is the UK’s largest multi-sports championship for athletes with intellectual disabilities in 2017.
Ron Daykin of Special Olympics Redditch (SOR) said: “This is a massive event for everyone, for the organisation, the volunteers and especially the athletes.
“For some it will be a bit of an eye opener with the size of the venues and the crowds, they won’t have experienced anything like it before.”
And he is confident the Redditch squad will acquit themselves well.
“Obviously I am biased, but they have done the training, they are keyed up and committed to doing well. If keenest is a medal then they will all come back winners.”
SOR have had to raise all the money themselves to fund the journey, accommodation and meals at the event, which start this Monday, August 7.
The opening ceremony, at Bramall Lane the home of Sheffield United FC, will be presented by a trio of big name stars – Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter, F1 broadcaster Suzi Perry and football pundit Chris Kamara, while Tony Hadley will top the entertainment bill.
The Special Olympics competition programme is non elite and is open to all abilities thanks to a divisioning system which offers athletes the opportunity to compete among those with similar ability.
The Redditch squad:
Shane Dennis – aquatics; Laurie Brooks – athletics; Lauren Francis – gymnastics; Jessica Hiles – boccia (similar to French petanque); Emmeline Rudge – athletics; Jonathan Wedgbury – athletics; Chris Finch – gymnastics; Stacey Everill – athletics; Richard Daykin – gymnastics.