Special Olympics Great Britain

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Logo of the Special Olympics Great Britain

The Special Olympics Great Britain (originally known as Special Olympics UK) was founded in 1978 by Chris Maloney MBE. It was one of the first European programmes of the international Special Olympics movement.[1]

Special Olympics GB creates opportunities for children and adults with learning disabilities' to take part in various sports training and competition year-round. The Special Olympics is often confused with the Paralympics, which is for athletes with physical disability. To be eligible to take part in the Special Olympics GB programmes, participants would have to have an IQ of 75 and below. Up to date Special Olympics GB is helping around 8,000 children and adults with learning disability through sport activities, along with over 2,800 volunteers across Britain.[2]

Special Olympics GB has a charitable status and has been receiving donations and funding from individuals as well as corporate partners. National Grid, Coca Cola GB, Domino's Pizza and Lions Clubs International are some of the long-term official partners of Special Olympics GB.

Ambassadors[3] of Special Olympics GB includes former Southampton football manager Lawrie McMenemy, Olympic Champion athlete Darren Campbell, former NBA basketball legend John Amaechi,TV beauty and style guru Armand Beasley and football legend Ossie Ardiles. Among its strong supporters is World Champion English gymnast Beth Tweddle, who joined the Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street for a send-off of Special Olympics GB team to the World Summer Games 2011 in Athens.[4] Tweddle has also given some coaching to Special Olympics gymnastics athlete Omar Haddad before he set off to Greece.[5]

At the 2011 World Summer Games in Athens, the GB team of 151 athletes and 53 coaches won a total of 187 medals (78 Gold, 63 Silver, 52 Bronze). The athletes competed in 17 sports: Aquatics, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Cycling, Equestrian, Football (including Unified Football), Golf, Artistic and Rhythmic Gymnastics, Judo, Kayaking, Powerlifting, Sailing, Table Tennis and Tennis.[6]

Special Olympics GB's National Games take place in Britain every two years, alternating between summer and winter games.[7] They are part of Special Olympics International.

The seventh games took place in 2005 in Glasgow, from 2 July to 9 July. Over 2500 athletes from across Great Britain competed in 23 sports. The Games Village was at the Scotstoun Leisure Centre. Information on the summer games in 2009 can be found at Special Olympics Leicester.


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