The Prime Minister, David Cameron, and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, hosted a special reception on 8 September to celebrate Special Olympics GB and their athletes from England, Scotland and Wales who are heading to Belgium to represent the country at the 2014 European Summer Games.
Speaking to Special Olympics GB team members at the reception, the Prime Minister said:
"You’re about to take part in an extraordinary competition, the Special Olympics. I’m sure there are going to be some great performances. You’re going to inspire a whole country; you're going to change people’s attitudes towards disability, particularly towards intellectual disability, and you’re going to make us all extremely proud."
No fewer than 35 athletes from the Special Olympics GB team – together with their coaches – were in attendance at the high-profile, prestigious event at Downing Street.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “The Special Olympics is an incredible organisation that gives thousands of people the opportunity to learn new skills, make new friends, keep fit and compete for their country.
“The London 2012 Paralympics was a triumph for athletes with physical disabilities, and I’m proud that the Special Olympics is now doing the same for people with intellectual disabilities.
“I wish all the athletes the best of luck for Antwerp and look forward to welcoming many of them to Sheffield where we will be proud hosts of the National Summer Games in 2017.”
Following the visit to the PM’s office the Belgian Ambassador to the UK, Mr Guy Trouveroy, will host a reception for all the athletes in the Special Olympics GB European Summer Games team at Belgrave Square, in central London.
These events would be followed by the Special Olympics GB team send off on Eurostar from St Pancras International to Brussels on Tuesday 9 September.
The Special Olympics European Summer Games will commence in Brussels with an Opening Ceremony on 13th September and will continue in Antwerp until the closing ceremony on 20th September 2014. In total, 49 athletes from Great Britain will be representing their country at this event.
In the region of 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.
This 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.