City to host £1.5 million Olympic competition

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News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.

A sporting competition attracting thousands of athletes is heading to Sheffield - bringing an estimated £1.5 million economic boost.

The city has been chosen to host the Special Olympics National Summer Games in 2017, billed as the UK’s biggest disability sports event.

The multi-sports event - last held in Sheffield in 1993 - is expected to involve 2,000 athletes, 500 coaches, another 500 volunteers and around 5,000 family members.

Venues hosting the games include the Ponds Forge, Hillsborough, Concord and Graves leisure centres as well as the Sheffield Hallam University City Athletics Stadium at Woodbourn Road and the English Institute of Sport.

City leaders see the event as a positive development for sport in Sheffield, after attracting criticism over the demolition of Don Valley Stadium and the official cancellation of the Sheffield Half Marathon in April.

The Special Olympics National Summer Games are held every four years for people with learning difficulties, and the 2017 competition will be the 10th in the history of the organisation.

Steve Brailey, chief executive of Sheffield City Trust, said the economic impact would be ‘significant’.

Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore said she was ‘absolutely delight’ the games were returning to the city.

“The decision is testament to the fact that Sheffield is a great sporting city, home to the sort of world-leading venues that befit a highly prestigious event such as this,” she said.

“From world-class venues such as the English Institute of Sport Sheffield and Ponds Forge, to the award-winning Hillsborough Leisure Centre, Sheffield really does have it all.

“However, this isn’t just about places, but about people. Sheffielders are well known for their love of sport, in what is our welcoming and inclusive city.

“This is another opportunity for our communities to get involved in a wonderful celebration of all things sporting.

“We estimate the economic benefit hosting the games in Sheffield will be in the region of £1.5m.”

The council will deliver the event alongside the City Trust, both Sheffield universties and South Yorkshire Sport.

Karen Wallin, chief executive of Special Olympics GB, said: “We are thrilled to be heading back to Sheffield. We are looking forward to the support of the local people and businesses as this very significant sporting event will require a large amount of assistance and energy.

“We are sure that Sheffield will provide a very successful and hugely memorable event for our athletes, their families, coaches and volunteers.”

Mr Brailey said: “The economic impact of hosting such a global sporting competition will be significant, with thousands of athletes, officials, volunteers and spectators expected in Sheffield for the six-day event.”

Special Olympics GB is the largest registered charity providing year-round sporting activities for people with learning disabilities, serving more than 8,000 athletes.

The competition will run from August 7 to 11, 2017, complete with opening and closing ceremonies.