PHOTOS: Special Olympics torch relay passes through Meadowhall

Spectators cheer the relay.
Spectators cheer the relay.
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The torch for this week's Special Olympics National Games has been carried through Meadowhall on its way to the opening ceremony later today.

PC Leo Hawker from South Yorkshire Police ran into the shopping centre with gymnasts Mary Nolan and Jessica Ward as the relay arrived in Sheffield.

The flame is now on its way to Sheffield United's Bramall Lane stadium, where the opening ceremony begins at 5pm.

Meadowhall is one of the main sponsors of the games, which run until Friday.

Centre director Darren Pearce said: “It has been great to see the build up to these special games over the weeks and to get the torch to come into the centre and be seen by so many people here was brilliant – a first for us and the torchbearer.

“Sheffield is certainly no stranger to hosting large sporting events and I’m sure the city will welcome, watch and cheer the many athletes as they strive for gold this week.”

PE Leo Hawker carries the Special Olympics flame through Meadowhall. Photos: Simon Dewhurst

PE Leo Hawker carries the Special Olympics flame through Meadowhall. Photos: Simon Dewhurst

The event is the UK's largest for athletes with learning disabilities.

Special Olympics GB CEO Karen Wallin said: “We are delighted to add Meadowhall on the official Special Olympics torch run route.

"The centre has been a great supporter and have thrown huge energy behind promoting the Special Olympics’ national games – our showpiece event every four years.

“Meadowhall has really contributed to raising the profile of our 2,600 athletes with learning disabilities and we thank them for backing us.”

Special Olympics GB president and former Southampton FC manager Lawrie McMenemy, Meadowhall centre director, Darren Pearce, PC Leo Hawker and Special Olympics GB chairman Murton Mann

Special Olympics GB president and former Southampton FC manager Lawrie McMenemy, Meadowhall centre director, Darren Pearce, PC Leo Hawker and Special Olympics GB chairman Murton Mann

About 2,600 athletes will compete in 20 sports this week. More details of the events and venues can be found at www.sheffield2017.org.uk.

The relay passes through.

The relay passes through.

Darren Pearce with PC Hawker.

Darren Pearce with PC Hawker.

Lord Mayor Anne Murphy joins athletes.

Lord Mayor Anne Murphy joins athletes.