Suffolk athletes given send off to remember ahead of 2017 Special Olympics in Sheffield

Councillor Tony Goldson with Suffolk's athletes and coaches who have been selected for the 2017 Spec

Councillor Tony Goldson with Suffolk's athletes and coaches who have been selected for the 2017 Special Olympics Great Britain National Summer Games. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

A group of athletes from Suffolk will be vying for medals and putting their skills to the test for the first time at this year’s Special Olympics.

The 2017 Special Olympics will be held in Sheffield from August 7

The 2017 Special Olympics will be held in Sheffield from August 7 - Credit: Archant

The 10th Special Olympics Great Britain’s National Summer Games will be held in Sheffield from August 7 to 12.

Around 2,600 athletes with intellectual disabilities will come together from across the country to compete in 20 different sports.

A group of 24 Special Olympics Suffolk (SOS) athletes who specialise in athletics, gymnastics and badminton will all be part of the Eastern Region team.

It is the first time athletes from the county will have had the opportunity to compete at this level and to mark their achievement, Suffolk County Council hosted an official send off for the group today at Endeavour House in Ipswich.

Councillor Tony Goldson with Suffolk's athletes and coaches who have been selected for the 2017 Spec

Councillor Tony Goldson with Suffolk's athletes and coaches who have been selected for the 2017 Special Olympics Great Britain National Summer Games. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Councillor Tony Goldson, cabinet member for health at the county council, said: “In Suffolk, our ambition is to become the most active county in England and a really important part of that is making sure that everybody, no matter what their background, age or ability has the opportunity to be active. With this in mind, Suffolk County Council is very pleased to support the work of Special Olympics Suffolk and we wish all the athletes great success in Sheffield.”

The Games will involve teams from all regions of England, Scotland and Wales.

Councillor Tony Goldson with Suffolk's athletes and coaches who have been selected for the 2017 Spec

Councillor Tony Goldson with Suffolk's athletes and coaches who have been selected for the 2017 Special Olympics Great Britain National Summer Games. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

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The SOS representatives have been training hard with their clubs and have qualified through various competitions held across the country in Bournemouth, London, Eton, Kent and Sheffield.

Oli Minns, who will be taking part in the 200m, 400m and long jump, said: “I’m really looking forward to competing against some of the best athletes from across the country, something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

Councillor Tony Goldson with Suffolk's athletes and coaches who have been selected for the 2017 Spec

Councillor Tony Goldson with Suffolk's athletes and coaches who have been selected for the 2017 Special Olympics Great Britain National Summer Games. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

SOS will also be well represented in terms of volunteers, providing seven coaches, including the head coaches for the Eastern athletics, gymnastics and badminton teams, in addition to general Games volunteers.

Terry McEntee, of SOS, said: “They have done all their training and are ready to take on the best in Sheffield next week. A big thank you to the coaches who have been training the athletes particularly over the past few years to get them ready for the Games. We are very grateful for the contribution by many people and organisations to fundraising without which taking part in the Games wouldn’t be possible.”

Councillor Tony Goldson with Suffolk's athletes and coaches who have been selected for the 2017 Spec

Councillor Tony Goldson with Suffolk's athletes and coaches who have been selected for the 2017 Special Olympics Great Britain National Summer Games. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Chris Hull, of Special Olympics GB, said: “It will be a wonderful experience not only for our athletes, but also the families, coaches and volunteers. It’s the culmination of of many years of training, hard work and practice. It will be a great sporting festival, but also a great event of human spirit and human endeavour.

“These Games are beyond sport because it gives our Special Olympic athletes the self-confidence and self-esteem to take on other challenges in the weeks, months and years ahead in their lives.

“People with learning disablities are not always given the opportunities of people without disability and between the Special Olympics and power of sport we give our athletes the chance to shine and to show the world the incredible range of abilities of people with a learning disability.”

Ellen Hutchings, gymnastics coach, added: “This is an amazing opportunity for our gymnasts and they are getting really excited not only about the competition, but also looking forward to making new friends.”

The full list of athletes from Suffolk taking part are:

GYMNASTICS

Ben O’Keefe

Grace Beales

Jack Witheridge

Jack Jacobs

Rudi Chaplin

Jason Blyth

Simon Booth

Joshua Lewis

Emily Buck

Jordan Jackson

Finley Barnes

ATHLETICS

Rhys Turnbull-Bester

Adam Szucs

Paul Mitchell

Hetty Bartlett

Andrew Brooks

Montell Leslie

Oliver Carton

Hamish Crawford

Oliver Minns

Catherine Plant

Jordan Rednall

BADMINTON

Kathy Brill

Cameron Sherman

More information about the Games can be found at sheffield2017.org.uk/

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