GBspecialolympicsThe Special Olympics National Summer Games – the largest disability sports event in the UK this year – will open today in Bath with a spectacular opening ceremony, heralding 3 days of competition.

The opening ceremony, held at the Royal Crescent in Bath, will also see the end of the Flame of Hope torch relay, which has been making its way around the southwest of England for the past week, including stops in Plymouth, Exeter, Swindon and Cheltenham.

Athletes from the southwest will also have the honour of accompanying the Flame of Hope into the opening ceremony, including:
• David Stockdale from Special Olympics (SO) Plymouth & District
• Kate Warmsley - SO South Devon
• William Strong - Exeter & District
• Adam Osborne - Buds & Suds South Gloucestershire
• Philip Bolt - SO Plymouth & District.

At Royal Crescent, Thomas Mellor from South Gloucestershire will light the cauldron.

Atmosphere of fun & friendship
Following the opening ceremony the cauldron will be relocated to the Games Village at the University of Bath campus where it will remain during the period of the National summer Games.

The Special Olympics GB National Summer Games, which take place every four years, will see 1,700 athletes with intellectual disabilities compete over 3 days of competition in 12 disciplines: athletics, artistic gymnastics, football, boccia, badminton, short-mat bowls, golf, rhythmic gymnastics, table tennis, ten-pin bowling, tennis and swimming.

It is run by Special Olympics GB, which is part of a global movement that, alongside the Olympics and Paralympics, is a member of the Olympic family. It provides year-round sports training which aims to improve self-esteem, confidence and fitness. The athletes benefit from quality sports coaching and competition in an atmosphere of fun and friendship.

Karen Wallin, CEO of Special Olympics GB, said: “The Torch Relay is a great opportunity to raise awareness for the Special Olympic National Games in the southwest of England. We want to ensure that everyone around the South West knows about the Special Olympics movement and the opportunities it provides for people of all ages and abilities with intellectual disabilities to get involved in our year-round programme of sports training and competition.”