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Bradford group brands Government’s lack of help for UK Special Olympics an ‘injustice’
Athletes from BDSL in May 2010, celebrating being chosen for the 2011 Special Olympic Games in Athens. From left, ten-pin bowler Robert Burnett, power-lifter Nigel Halliday, basketball player James Horsfall and golfer Ben Horner
A Bradford charity which supports disabled athletes has criticised the Government for failing to provide funding for the Special Olympics as it starts a £20,000 fundraising campaign to send 31 competitors to the event.
Bradford Disability Sport and Leisure (BDSL) said athletes and coaches in its squad need to raise £375 each to take part in the games for people with learning disabilities, which will be held in Bath in August, but branded it an “injustice” that the competition didn’t get any funding from Sport England when it announced a £493m four-year investment to keep the inspiration of London 2012 alive in December.
The group, through its partnership with West Yorkshire Sport, will benefit from a slice of £10.2m of National Lottery funding from the Inclusive Sport Fund.
But Barry Thorne, BDSL fundraising officer, said: “With the fantastic success our Olympic and Paralympics athletes had in London, surely the time is right for athletes with learning disabilities to have the same showcase for their ability not their disability?
“Worldwide Special Olympics enable learning-disabled individuals in more than 185 countries to use the power of sport to bring about benefits including community pride, education, diversity and tolerance as well as success, achievement and enjoyment.
“We know that funding is tight – however all we ask is that athletes with learning disabilities are given a chance to succeed. The same chance that our Olympic and Paralympics athletes have had.”
Training has already started for the Special Olympics, run by charity Special Olympics GB, which provides people with learning disabilities with sports training and competition.
Bradford athletes aged between 15 and 50 will form part of the 211-strong Yorkshire and Humberside squad.
Mr Thorne said a fundraising quest had now started to raise the cash needed to pay for transport, kits and training before the games, which will be held at Bath University between August 28 and September 1.
Last year, BDSL raised £10,000 to send four competitors to the Special Olympic World Summer Games in Athens, which saw more than 7,500 athletes from 185 nations competing in 22 sports. Bradford athletes joined Team GB, who brought back 187 medals.
If anybody would like to help by fundraising or making a donation call (01274) 437093 or e-mail bsr1@btconnect.
com. For more information, visit bradforddisabilitysports.co.uk.