'Incredible' Special Olympics brings in £1.4 million to Sheffield

Big crowds at Ponds Forge for the swimming.
Big crowds at Ponds Forge for the swimming.
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The Special Olympics National Games brought in more than a million pounds to Sheffield, council bosses have revealed.

The UK's top disability sporting event was held last week, with more than 2,600 athletes competing in 20 events.

The opening ceremony at Bramall Lane.

The opening ceremony at Bramall Lane.

Competitors came from all over the UK - with a small delegation all the way from Australia - and thousands of friends and family members joined them to watch the action.

The people of Sheffield also gave their support through their attendance at events, their donations to fundraising appeals or their time by volunteering.

And according to the city council, which bid to host the games for the second time since 1993, the event brought in an estimated £1.4 million to the city, based on spend on accommodation, travel and venue hire.

Deputy leader Olivia Blake said: “The Special Olympic National Games were amazing and it was an absolute pleasure to host them.

PC Leo Hawker carries the Special Olympics torch through Meadowhall.

PC Leo Hawker carries the Special Olympics torch through Meadowhall.

“Sheffield witnessed some incredible sporting achievements and we were inspired by the athletes.

“The event also boosted the city economically, through spend on accommodation, travel, at the venues and all the other great things we have on offer.

"I’d like to thank the games organisers, the athletes, volunteers, visitors and all the supporters for making the Special Olympics such a success.”

Sheffield athletes performed well in the games, with gold medallists including Jordan Brace for Boccia, Michael Hill for table tennis and Nathan Hill for athletics.

Nigel Pearson and Howard Wilkinson with athlete Joshua Townsend, from Sheffield

Nigel Pearson and Howard Wilkinson with athlete Joshua Townsend, from Sheffield

There were also plenty of fringe events taking place throughout the city, giving hundreds of children and adults with a learning disability the chance try out new sports including tennis, cricket, basketball, athletics, boccia and golf.

Sheffield residents became part of the games by adding to a mass-participation art display which is on show in the Winter Gardens.

Special Olympics Great Britain CEO Karen Wallin said: “I would like to thank the council, your staff and the public of Sheffield for giving our athletes, families, coaches and supporters such a warm welcome to the city.

"With over 1,000 volunteers - many of them local people - giving up to 12 hours a day, I think I can safely say that these games are going to be one of the most successful we have ever held! .

“The sporting venues are second to none and I hope that these games will be remembered as another great sporting moment hosted in Sheffield.”