Posted: Thu, 31 Aug 2017 16:20
Tuesday 8th August 2017, an average midweek day for most. Not all though, as 2,600 athletes, focused and excited, descended on Sheffield, for this would be their home of sport over the next 4 days of the Special Olympics Great Britain National Summer Games.
Similar to the renowned Para Olympics, the Special Olympics is for top athletes with intellectual disabilities of all ages from England, Scotland, Australia and Wales. A competition of this scale required amazing support which was smoothly taken upon by: 800 coaches, 1000 volunteers and 200 officials. Any pre-competition nerves from the athletes were quickly extinguished by the vibrant and lively atmosphere created by over 7,000 friends and family who came to support the athletes and the regions they were representing.
Being such a special occasion for all involved, it required a memorable happening and the opening ceremony certainly delivered for me. Hosted at the iconic Bramall Lane Stadium, celebrities such as Little Mix, Olly Murs and Tim Shriver gave messages of support which were shown on the big screen. During Toseland's performance of 'We'll Stop at Nothing' (the official song for the Games) the sense of a mutual feeling of pride was clearly defined in the array of faces across the stadium; something very special.
Taking us back closer to home, Desford Tennis Club member Matthew Chilvers, aged 21, was selected to represent the East Midlands Region in the tennis (one of 21 sports taking place). Matthew came away with a bronze medal in doubles and a 4th in singles. Speaking to Matthew after the games, he said: "it was a fantastic experience to be around such a vast range of sports and people, all there focused on their sport". Moreover, he thanked all who supported the event and the people who make others' ambitions and dreams have a chance to become a reality.
Looking back to the first day, you never know what could be happening on your average midweek Tuesday.