Earlier today, it was announced that Special Olympics GB got a £2 million funding boost from British government. The funding will go towards supporting the 115 Special Olympics GB member strong team going to compete in Los Angeles at the World Summer Games in July. Some of the money will also go to the 2017 National Summer Games organized by Special Olympics GB. The remainder of the funds have been earmarked to support and build on new and current infrastructure, towards developing additional pathways for competition through the Unified Schools project, and provide pathways for athletes to continue to participate in sport after they leave school.
Great Britain’s 150 Special Olympics clubs can expect contact from the national organization in the coming weeks. Special Olympics GB said, “We have only just been told of this historic news in the last circa 48 hours. So it is an occasion to rejoice in the fact that people with an intellectual disability and their passion for sport has been recognised at the very highest level and this is the very first time we have received funding to support our athletes from government. We will contact all team members, clubs and regions in the next couple of weeks about the process for this as there is lots to consider given that a large number of clubs have been fundraising very hard for this event and how we will distribute funds back to clubs.”
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, was quoted by English Federation of Disability Sport as saying, “I’m immensely proud to be supporting Special Olympics GB to actively recruit, inspire and empower people with intellectual disabilities to reach for the finishing line in their favourite sport. Over a million people in the UK have an intellectual disability, and sport is a key component in helping to tackle stigma, improve health and broaden their horizons with new opportunities. I saw first-hand the benefits of the games when I met Nicholas, a Special Olympics athlete from Sheffield who went on to compete for the GB Team as an athlete in the 2014 Special Olympics European Games last year. This funding is yet another example of this government’s work to build a fairer society and provide opportunity for everyone. After successfully staging the Tour De France, Sheffield will build on that legacy by hosting the Special Olympics National Summer Games, and will cement our city’s proud reputation as a centre of sporting excellence, boosting tourism and bringing thousands of visitors to the area.”
For some Team GB athletes who had been hoping to go to Los Angeles, the funding may come a little bit too late. Some parents have said their local clubs had little to no funding prior to this, with the deadline to go too late. For some Special Olympians, the money enabling them to compete in Los Angeles came through families paying, or local fundraising by the club.