The Special Olympics Great Britain National Summer Games 2017 took place in the city of Sheffield 7th-12th August, 2017. The Eastern Region consists of six branches: SO East Herts; SO Essex; SO Norfolk, SO Peterborough, SO St.Albans and SO Suffolk. The Eastern team was the fourth largest delegation (261) which was made up of 179 athletes and 82 volunteer coaches/escorts, competing in 14 sports: Aquatics, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Boccia, Equestrian, Football, Golf, Gymnastics Artistic and Rhythmic, Judo, Netball, Powerlifting and Tennis.
This event is the country’s largest multi-sports event for athletes with intellectual disabilities with around 2,600 athletes of all ages and abilities come together from across the country, supported over 4 days of competition by 800 coaches, 100 volunteers and 200 official and over 7,000 family and friends.
The opening ceremony was on the Tuesday evening with Tony Hadley headlining the event. The Eastern Region Team was the first delegation into the grounds leading the parade in the pouring rain! The weather didn’t dampen the spirits however.
Their final medal tally was 73 gold; 75 silver and 75 bronze medals with forty-five 4th, thirty-nine 5th, twenty-four 6th, seventeen 7th and seven 8th place ribbons.
The Basketball team (Herts Chiefs SO East Herts) returned home victorious as National Champions. Head Coach Jake Fisher said “the players were absolutely brilliant, I couldn’t be prouder.”
The Netball Team was a new squad of ladies who were selected from the SO East Herts and SO St. Albans Netball Clubs. They finished in 5th place and Head Coach Amy Gregg said “the ladies have worked really hard this year, and the improvement seen by us coaches, their families and friends has been massive. They all really enjoyed the experience and I am very proud of all of them.”
The Aquatics team was made up of 28 swimmers who brought home a clutch of medals: 14 gold, 16silver, 15 bronze, nine 4th, nine 5th, three 6th, and seven 7th place ribbons. Head Coach Janet Warrington said “there were many highlights but the 4x100m freestyle relay team has to be one of them, the boys had us on the edge of our seats and jumping up and down when they won the gold medal.”
The Athletics team had 41 athletes and they brought home 17 gold, 21 silver, 25 bronze medals, fourteen 4th, eighteen 5th, thirteen 6th, eight 7th and five 8th place ribbons. Margaret Nicholls Head Coach said “it is an experience the athletes will never forget – exceptional, enthusiastic team.”
The Boccia Team had 15 players bringing home 5 gold medals, 3 silver and 4 bronze, three 4th, two 5th, three 6th and one 7th place ribbons. Head Coach Roy McGee said “it was a real privilege to be Head Coach alongside Assistant Coach Sam and the other nine fantastic volunteers whose help was so much appreciated by Sam and I. The athletes were a joy to work they all performed amazingly well and the medals and ribbons were well deserved.”
The Badminton team had 2 players winning a silver medal in the mixed doubles and 4th and 8th ribbons in their singles. Head Coach Mike McCarthy said “Kathy and Cameron, SO Suffolk athletes, are the first from the Eastern Region to compete in the badminton at the National Summer Games. They did a brilliant job against some very tough and experienced opposition. Winning the silver medal in the Mixed Doubles on the final day of competition was a great achievement and a fitting reward for all of their hard work. We are all very proud of both of them.”
The sport of Judo had one representative Skye Westwood from SO Suffolk who brought the gold medal home.
Equestrian had twelve athletes taking part bringing home 5 gold, 11 silver, 7 bronze, three 4th, seven 5th, and three 6th place ribbons.
There were three football teams representing the Eastern Region winning silver medal, 4th and 6th. Head Coach Darren Hunter said “myself and the coaches are so proud of the efforts the lads put in over the 3 days of competition. We feel honoured to have brought back the first football Silver medal to the Eastern Region and we can’t wait to come back in four years’ time and do even better.”
The Eastern Golf Team of six players brought home 1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze, one 4th and one 5th place ribbon.
Gymnastics were represented in Artistic (13 athletes) and Rhythmic (1 athlete). In the Rhythmic Gymnastics competition Jennifer Goodwin from SO Peterborough came home with 3 silver, 1 bronze medal and one 4th place ribbon. The Artistic Gymnasts brought home a massive total of 26 gold, 17 silver, 18 bronze, twelve 4th, one 5th, one 6th, one 7th and one 8th place medals. Head Coach Ellen Hutchings asked three of the athletes about the Games: Jack Jacobs said “it was really good and I enjoyed it all in particular the party to celebrate the games finishing.” Ben O’Keefe said “I enjoyed the competition venue was good and meeting up with friends was brilliant. The parade for the opening ceremony was fun but loud!” and finally Grace Beales said “it was fun, exciting and joyful. Winning gold medals was fantastic and I can’t wait for the next competition.”
The Eastern Tennis players were represented by brother and sister Michael and Kerry-Alice Hartnett, Oliver (Olly) Beadle and Sarah Simpson. Olly won the gold for the mens division one and Michael for mens division two. Kerry won bronze for ladies division 1 and Sarah bronze for ladies division two. In the mixed doubles Michael and Kerry-Alice had to play against team mates Olly and Sarah with the Hartnett’s winning the gold medal and Beadle and Simpson bringing home the bronze. Head Coach Jackie Insole said “the tennis team did the Eastern region proud once again at the national games, with medals for every one of the 6 events entered. I was very pleased with the way the team gelled, supported each other and their incredible sportsmanship towards other players.”
The Eastern Team was fully supported the whole way through by the Head of Delegation Lauren O’Leary and Assistant HOD Lucy Currie. Of the event Lauren O’Leary said “The past two years of planning and preparation ensuring our delegation can go to an event like the National Summer Games, has at times been a challenge, however, I wouldn’t change a thing. The atmosphere at the games is electric and the pride you feel being a part of a SOGB event is immense. I am very proud of all of the athletes, coaches and volunteers and would.
Overall Medal Table
|Eastern Region Medal Tally|
|Gymnastics – Artistic||26||17||18||12||1|
|Gymnastics – Rhythmic||3||1||1|