jessica jane applegateMore than 100 athletes with learning disabilities took part in The Royal Mencap Society’s Open National Athletics Championships and Festival of Athletics at Manchester Regional Arena on June 28.

The competitors at the 17th running of the national competition for athletes with learning disabilities were joined by Mayor of Manchester Susan Cooley and Paralympic gold medallist Jessica-Jane Applegate MBE (pictured), who has a learning disability.

Nearly 100 athletes took part in the main championships across 13 athletic disciplines, including the 100m, 400m, 5000m, javelin, discus, long jump and high jump. In addition, the Festival of Athletics enabled those with more severe learning disabilities to take part in sporting competition.

Mencap’s national sport manager, Ian Carpenter, said: "The Open Athletics Championships are a highlight on Mencap’s sporting calendar. It is a celebration of the achievements of elite athletes and reminds us all that people with a learning disability should have the opportunity to take part in elite sport.

"We are lucky to have had a brilliant group of volunteers as without them this day would not have been possible. I would like to say a huge thank you to them and everyone who supported the event I'd also like to say a special thank you to Manchester City Council for their support."

Further reading: Paralympics did have lasting effect on public views of people with learning disabilities, study finds

Mayor Cooley added: "I am proud that Manchester has hosted the Open Athletics Championships and that we have been able to work closely with Mencap to make the day a real success.

"It was a true privilege to present the prizes and meet the athletes, who displayed amazing sporting prowess. I’m sure the example set by the competitors will inspire people to be more active and is a reminder that there should be no barriers for participating in sport at the highest level."

For more information visit: www.mencap.org.uk/what-we-do/our-services/leisure/mencap-sport