Press release

Special Olympics GB race to World Games with £2 million funding

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

£2 million funding boost will help 115 athletes prepare for 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.

Special Olympics Great Britain​​​ ​team has received a £2 million ​funding boost from the government.​​ ​

The Deputy Prime Minister and Culture Secretary announced the investment​ ​as its 115 athletes prepare to take part in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in July. ​This is the first time the British team has received government support to represent Britain at a World Games.

The event, which will run from 25 July until 2 August 2015, will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015. It will also be the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games.

Special Olympics GB has an extensive network of clubs operating in 19 regions throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Find your nearest club.

The charity, which helps children and adults with (intellectual) disabilities take part in year-round sports coaching and competition activities, will also use the funding to support the successful delivery of its 2017 Special Olympics GB National Summer Games and encourage thousands more young Britons with intellectual disabilities to enjoy and participate in sport through the development of more inclusive club and school opportunities.

Special Olympics GB expects the Sheffield games will be the largest ever, with over 2,000 athletes expected to take part in front of 10,000 family, friends and supporters.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

I’m immensely proud to be supporting Special Olympics GB to actively recruit, inspire and empower people with intellectual disabilities to reach for the finishing line in their favourite sport.

Over a million people in the UK have an intellectual disability, and sport is a key component in helping to tackle stigma, improve health and broaden their horizons with new opportunities.

This funding is yet another example of this government’s work to build a fairer society and provide opportunity for everyone. After successfully staging the Tour De France, Sheffield will build on that legacy by hosting the Special Olympics National Summer Games, and will cement our city’s proud reputation as a centre of sporting excellence, boosting tourism and bringing thousands of visitors to the area.

Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, said:

Britain has a great tradition of supporting disability sport, including delivering the most successful Paralympics ever at London 2012. Sport is a force for social good and I am determined to expand its reach. This funding will ensure the Special Olympics GB team go from strength to strength in Los Angeles, Sheffield and beyond.

CEO of Special Olympics GB, Karen Wallin said:

I want to sincerely thank the Deputy Prime Minister and Culture Secretary for their recognition of and investment in our life changing sports programme.

Special Olympics GB has a vision to ensure that it becomes the recognised leader in the provision of sport to all people with intellectual disabilities and allowing them to achieve their full potential in life through meaningful inclusion.

We are committed to driving positive actions for young disabled people in sport within both education and community settings and we have set ourselves an ambitious goal to ensure that our infrastructure and programmes have the ability to reach every child and young person with intellectual disabilities (between the ages of 2 and 25 years) in Great Britain by 2018. The investment received today from government will ensure that we achieve this goal and more.

Notes for editors

Special Olympics GB currently has 150 Special Olympics clubs that serve 8,000 intellectually disabled athletes with the help of its dedicated army of 4,000 volunteers.

There are an estimated 1.2 million people with an intellectual (learning) disability in Great Britain.

The year-round sport provided by Special Olympics is important to people with learning disabilities because adults and children with intellectual disabilities tend to have poorer health and the many emotional and physical problems associated with inactivity. 1 in 3 people with an intellectual disability is obese, compared to 1 in 5 of the general population.

Recent government funded research shows marked differences in the life expectancy of people with intellectual disabilities. Men with intellectual disabilities die on average 13 years earlier than men without disability, whilst the figure for females is a staggering 20-year disparity.

This research also shows that 1,200 people with learning disability die unnecessarily prematurely each year due to inadequate regular medical care and lack of an annual health check.

Special Olympics can help this huge issue by ensuring people with an intellectual disability are kept within an inclusive social community network which can identify health problems and issues by their coaches and club members.

Special Olympics GB is working hard with medical experts to address these issues through sports training and competition - a key programme called ‘Healthy Athletes’ makes health checks available to our athletes at key competitions.

Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities opportunities to increase their confidence, realise their potential, develop physical fitness and mental wellbeing, demonstrate courage and experience new friendships.

Special Olympics GB (SOGB) is part of a global organisation that provides year-round sports training and athletic competition to 4.4 million children and adults with intellectual (learning) disabilities in almost 200 countries.

Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of the late President John F Kennedy, Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities opportunities to realise their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience friendship.

Special Olympics is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the third member of the Olympic family. It is the only sports organisation authorised by the IOC to use the word ‘Olympics’ in its title.

Founded in 1968, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 4 million athletes in 177 countries in all regions of the world, providing year round sports training and competition.

For press enquiries or more information please contact Karen Wallin, CEO, Special Olympics GB on 07990 573604/0207 375 7612 or Karen.wallin@sogb.org.uk.

2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games

  • SOGB has 115 athletes going to the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games this summer to represent the country which will commence with an opening ceremony held on 25th July 2015 in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum - the site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games.
  • The 2015 World Games Opening Ceremony is expected to attract 80,000 spectators with the Honorary Chair of the Games being President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Governor Jerry Brown are serving as honorary hosts for the Special Olympics World Summer Games.
  • The event, which will run from 25 July until 2 August 2015, will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015. It will also be the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games.
  • The 2015 Special Olympics World Games - with unparalleled spirit, enthusiasm, teamwork, joy and displays of courage and skill, all the hallmarks of all Special Olympics events - will feature 28 sports at venues throughout the Los Angeles region.
  • We are delighted that we are able to take such a large team to represent the country at what should be an incredible World Summer Games in Los Angeles.
  • This should be a Games to remember and we send our sincere congratulations to everyone who has reached the team. We will be proud of every athlete and we know they will strive to be the very best they can. We will bring home medals but most importantly our athletes will obtain memories, friendships and experiences to last a lifetime.

2017 Special Olympics GB National Summer Games

  • 10th Special Olympics GB National Summer Games will be hosted in the City of Sheffield
  • The Games will run from 7 to 12 August, 2017
  • There will be over 2,000 athletes, 600 coaches, 200 officials, 700 volunteers and 18 sports
  • We also aim to engage and enable the participation of more young people, more female athletes as well as more lower-ability athletes