(Tom Adams, community engagement manager for Special Olympics, and Judy Burdass, Parent)
By Joanna Fawcett-Jones
The proud parents of GB Special Olympic athletes celebrated in Sheffield today at the launch of the
2017 Families Programme.
The event was launched by Lord Mayor of Sheffield Talib Hussain as 5,000 of the athletes’ family
members are expected to descend on Sheffield next summer as the city hosts the Special Olympics
GB National Games.
The Special Olympics was set up in 1963 to cater for people of all ages with intellectual disabilities
and provides regular training clubs and competitions for athletes.
Alex Thompson from Sheffield won a gold medal at the Special Olympics World Games in Los
Angeles last year, “I’m competing in basketball in Sheffield. My favourite part of basketball is
shooting but I’ll play any position the coach puts me in to.”
(Alex Thompson, gold medal basketball player at Special Olympics)
Alex’s mother, Jayne Thompson said: “There were 11 of us who went out to Los Angeles. We follow
him wherever he goes. It’s nice to have him on home ground so we can share it with family who
don’t normally experience it or see it and Sheffield has some really great venues.”
Alex has been a part of the Special Olympics since 2005 and also competes as a swimmer.
The event is expected to bring 2,800 athletes from across Great Britain to Sheffield in August 2017.
Phil Morgan, Chairman of the Special Olympics Sheffield said: “The last games in Sheffield were 1993
and there is a legacy from that.
“People with learning disabilities are capable of integrating and the Special Olympics help them do
that as well as keeping them fit and healthy.
“It’s not just about being active and being involved in sport, it is about being involved in the wider
“The facilities for people with learning difficulties for them to take part in mainstream clubs are non-
The national games are about coming together as individuals, it builds confidence and important
skills. For some athletes it is the first time they leave home on their own.”
Judy Burdass whose son Duncan is a competing Special Olympic swimmer with Down’s Syndrome
“It’s a big family thing and I am looking forward to coming to Sheffield. It’s the atmosphere of the
games, it’s a completely different atmosphere, and it’s just amazing. You can actually see what the
athletes can do. My son will wave to the audience while swimming the backstroke. I can’t imagine
what our life and his life would be like without it.”
The Special Olympics National Games will held at venues across Sheffield and entry to all sports
events will be free to the public.