Six Welsh athletes selected for GB Special Olympics

Six Welsh athletes have been selected to compete as part of the GB Special Olympics, which will see sportspeople with intellectual disabilities from 170 countries compete over nine days.

The Special Olympics World Games is the world’s largest inclusive sporting event which takes place every four years – this year it is due to be held in Berlin and will commence on 17th June. The games have been running since 1968, when they first began in Chicago.

man doing butterfly stroke

This week, six Welsh athletes have been announced to be taking part as part of the GB team and more than 7,000 competitors have been said to be taking part this year. The Welsh competitors range in age from 18 to 40 and are playing in sports such as badminton, powerlifting, bocce, and athletics.

After being announced to take part in the games, a reception was held to wish the athletes luck before they fly to Berlin on Monday. The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, wished them ‘every success’ during the event at the Senedd.

Joshua Longbottom, from Llanfihangel Tal y Llyn in Brecon, is due to compete in the 100m, mixed relay and shot put. Speaking to the BBC, he said sport made him feel ‘energised’, and added: ‘It’s going to be a packed week, but it’s going to be worth it for the whole experience.’

In addition, the athletes have stated this opportunity has restored their faith in being able to take part in sporting events as the Covid pandemic prevented them from doing so for many years. Joshua said it was a ‘really good feeling’ to finally see his hard work paying off.

The sporting event is the largest provider of year-round sports training and competition for children and adults of all abilities with intellectual disabilities.

Research from Sport England shows that disabled people are twice as likely to be physically inactive (41%), compared with those without a disability (20%), however, with the recent news of these six Welsh athletes heading over to Berlin and an event dedicated to allowing people with an intellectual disability to fulfil their talents, it displays that despite all external and internal factors you can still progress with a dream.

Image: Gentrit Sylejmani


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