Sheffielders get a taste of sport's benefits from gold medal-winning athlete

Paralympian Will Bayley shows off his gold medal
Paralympian Will Bayley shows off his gold medal
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Sheffielders got a taste of the Special Olympics today, and a gold medal-winning Paralympian lent his face to the campaign.

Will Bayley, who trains at Sheffield, was the guest of honour at the Special Olympics South Yorkshire sports taster day at the English Institute of Sport.

Sheffielders got a taste of sport's benefits at the Institute of Sport

Sheffielders got a taste of sport's benefits at the Institute of Sport

More than 100 people with intellectual disabilities got the chance to try a range of sports which organisers said would lead to improved self-confidence.

Bayley said the benefits stretched far further than sports. He said it paved the way for vast improvements in everyday life.

Sport, Bayley said, helped people learn about how to deal with victory, defeat and adversity.

His table tennis gold medal at Rio in 2016 came on the back of silver in London in 2012.

Sheffielders got a taste of sport's benefits at the Institute of Sport

Sheffielders got a taste of sport's benefits at the Institute of Sport

Bayley was beaten in one of the group stages, but recovered to win gold.

Bayley beat Brazilian Israel Pereira Stroh 3-1 in the men's class 7 final. He celebrated by jumping up onto the table.

"To win the gold medal was pretty special," he said.

"Especially in table tennis. It's one of the most competitive sports."

Sheffielders got a taste of sport's benefits at the Institute of Sport

Sheffielders got a taste of sport's benefits at the Institute of Sport

It made up for the agony of missing the major prize at his home event four years earlier.

Bayley went down to Germany's Jochen Wollmert in the final at London.

"It was very tough, to lose in front of the home fans," he said.

Yorkshire Sport Foundation's director of operations, Helen Marney, said today's turnout doubled that of last year's.

Mrs Marney was happy to give people a chance to improve their lives and health through sport.

"The whole point of today is to give people a go," she said.

"To see them try out sports in a venue like this is brilliant."

The Special Olympics Great Britain National Summer Games are coming to Sheffield in August.

Athletes will compete across 28 sports, and 5000 people are expected at the opening ceremony at Bramall Lane.