A team of 49 athletes from across Great Britain has been chosen to represent the country at the Special Olympics European Summer Games in Antwerp this September. Saturday 6 July marks 50 days until the start of the Games. The GB team will set off on Eurostar from London St Pancras International to Belgium on Tuesday 9 September.
The day before departure (Monday 8 September), a large number of the team will be hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron at a Downing Street reception, followed by an event at the Embassy of Belgium later that evening.
The Special Olympics European Summer Games will open on 13th September and will run until the closing ceremony on 20 September 2014.
More than 2,000 athletes with intellectual (learning) disabilities from 58 European countries will take part in the following 10 sports events: Athletics, Artistic Gymnastics, Football, Bocce, Badminton, Unified Basketball, Cycling, Judo, Table Tennis and Swimming.
Special Olympics GB is the largest registered charity providing year round sports training and competition opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.
It is the European showpiece event for Special Olympics – held every four years for the organisation and its athletes. Almost 1.2 million people in the UK (2% of the population) have an intellectual disability.
Minister for Sport, Helen Grant, said: “Congratulations to all those who have been selected to represent Special Olympics GB at the Special Olympics European Summer Games in Belgium. It will be a very proud moment for all the athletes to represent their country and I wish them all the best with their preparations before the Games begin in September.”
Special Olympics GB CEO, Karen Wallin, said: "I would like to congratulate every single member of our team who will represent Great Britain in Antwerp at the European Summer Games. We are proud of each and every athlete and we know they will strive to be the very best they can. They will all try to bring home medals but, just as importantly, build new friendships and gain memories that will last a lifetime."
Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive at Eurostar, said: "It’s an honour to carry the Special Olympics GB team to the European Summer Games in Antwerp. With only 50 days to go until the athletes compete, we are looking forward to sending the team off from London St. Pancras in September. Antwerp is a fast rail connection from Brussels and a great destination for the European Summer Games - it will be easy for sports fans to travel to Belgium to cheer on their teams.”