National Boccia Day

Recently we celebrated National Boccia Day with a tournament at Whitton Sports Centre, it was a great day with groups from across Suffolk coming together to play.

There were over 30 competitors in the tournament and some fierce competition took place, we were thrilled to be visited by BBC Radio Suffolk to interview a few of the players too! Special thanks goes to the volunteers who reffed the games and marked out the courts. It was generally agreed a great time was enjoyed by everyone. Take a look below for a few photos from the day’s brilliant Boccia action.

To take a listen of the BBC Radio Suffolk interview then simply click this link here:

The first part of the interview can be heard from 40 minutes in and then listen in from 2 hours 7 minutes to hear interviews with the players and also discover how the reporter got on when she gave boccia a go.

We host a regular boccia session on Thursdays between 10:30am-12:30pm to find out more and get involved contact Mike on or call the office on 01473 345350.

Suffolk badminton fly the flag for the East

Special Olympics Suffolk badminton players proudly flew the flag for the Eastern Region , at the National Special Olympics Badminton Tournament held at the University of Wolverhampton Sports Campus in Walsall. The team of 12 players from Suffolk, did a brilliant job of representing our county and region, winning a total of 13 medals across the range of singles and doubles events. “The competition was often tough, and it certainly wasn’t all ‘plain sailing’ for our team, but they all stuck to their task brilliantly throughout the two days of play”, said coach, Mike McCarthy. “All of our players were a real credit to Special Olympics Suffolk and the Eastern Region”.  

The athletes were presented with their medals by Colin Dyer, the recently appointed CEO of Special Olympics GB. “I’m loving the energy and passion of the Suffolk/Eastern team”, said Colin.  

A big thank you to all of the Suffolk volunteer coaches and great supporters who made the weekend possible, and so enjoyable, and to ActivLives, who continue to support the delivery of the weekly training sessions in Ipswich.

Former Special Olympics Suffolk athlete Hetty Bartlett represents England in the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games

Former Special Olympics Suffolk athlete Hetty Bartlett will be sprinting for gold in Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games. The 31-year-old represented Team England at Tokyo Paralympics, competing in the long jump, finishing sixth. Hetty has switched sports for the Games and will be competing in the Women’s T37/38 final on 2nd August between 6:30pm – 10:30pm.

Cerebral Palsy Sport completed an interview with Hetty to find out how her preparations have gone on. To read about the interview, please click here.

Athletics Summer Series of Sport!

Special Olympics Suffolk hosted a very successful Eastern Region Special Olympics GB Summer Series of Sport Athletics competition on Saturday 9th July at Bury St Edmunds. In addition to Special Olympics Suffolk, athletes travelled from London, St Albans, Essex and Norfolk to take part in what turned out to be an excellent day’s athletics, the first opportunity for most to compete after a two year gap due to the pandemic.

Running alongside a Suffolk Quadkids competition, this Special Olympics event was part of the Festival of Suffolk Community Games, one of Suffolk’s headline events to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. An added attraction was the visit by the Queen’s Baton Relay to the track on its way to the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

A big thank you to the qualified athletics officials and to the many supporting volunteers who made this a memorable occasion for our athletes. You can download the results of the competition below or check out our gallery to see more photos of the event!

Racket Taster Session

A Rackets Taster event was held recently at Ipswich Sports Club in Ipswich, attracting 24 participants. The activities, which were targeted at athletes with a learning disability, included a variety of tennis and badminton skills and challenges. Several of the players were new to one or both of these great sports. Many thanks to Ipswich Sports Club, Wots Up, Papworth Trust, ActivLives and Special Olympics Suffolk for their hard work in making this event happen. It is planned to run a similar event again in the autumn.  

Waving the Suffolk flag!

Eight athletes from the ActivLives/Special Olympics Suffolk group competed recently, at a new Para-Disability tournament organised by Kent Badminton and held in Gillingham.

“This was our athletes first competition outside of Suffolk, since February 2020. All of them did a great job of flying the flag for Suffolk”, said Mike McCarthy, from ActivLives. Our team won a variety of medals in both the Singles and Doubles events.

A big thank you to Mags Fortune and family members, who supported our athletes throughout the weekend.

The next target for our players will be the Special Olympics National Tournament, being held in Walsall on the 20th-21st August.

Suffolk players together with members of the GB Paralympic Badminton squad, including Dan Bethell, Silver medallist from Tokyo in 2021.

ActivLives boccia players compete in Boccia England tournament!

Special Olympics Suffolk partner, ActivLives supported a team of their players to compete at the ‘Back to Boccia’ Central tournament, organised by Boccia England, which was held recently at the University of Hertfordshire.

Eleven players from the ActivBoccia group, who play weekly at Whitton Sports Centre in Ipswich, competed in a variety of classifications in Hatfield.

“We had players competing in the BC2, BC6 and BC8 classifications over the weekend”, said Mike McCarthy from ActivLives, “they all did a fabulous job of adapting to the level of competition which they faced. For all of our BC8 players, (those with an intellectual disability), this was their first ever competition at this level”, said Mike.

The players have been supported each week by ActivLives Session Leader, Ally Embley and GB Paralympian, Evie Edwards.

Many thanks also to Mags Fortune, from local disability provider, Wots Up, for her support in making it possible for athletes to compete at this event.

We hope that Suffolk players will compete again later this year, in Boccia England and/or Special Olympics events. 

Special Olympics Suffolk athletes bounce back

After being away from athletics for so long due to the pandemic, Special Olympics Suffolk athletes were really looking forward to getting back to competitive action. Having already returned to training, the April 3rd 2022 competition at the Lee Valley Indoor Athletics Arena provided the ideal incentive to get back to competing after a three year gap. Their expectation was fully realised with all their hard work in training being justly rewarded with many outstanding performances.

For Amy this was her first ever competition and she didn’t know what to expect.  She certainly wasn’t disappointed, coming away with some excellent performances.  First up in the 60m, Amy won with a time if 10.64. She was over the moon with her Gold medal.  Her next event was the long jump and, after two ‘no jumps’, she managed a Silver with her last jump.  To finish it off,  she then took part in the 4 X 60m relay where they romped home with a Gold.  On the back of this success, Amy with the support of her coaches and all the other families, is now looking forward to her next competition and hopefully many more.

As this was his first competition for almost three years, Alfie was determined to better his 400m PB of 65.00 secs. Not only did he better it, he absolutely smashed it with a time of 57.16. Such was the performance, that there was initial concern he might have performed beyond the limit of his division but this proved unfounded and he was awarded the Gold. Next came the 200m where there was tough competition and in crossing the line in 2nd place with a time of 25.64 he was just 0.30 off the Gold – another great result. Rounding off the day, running the fourth leg in the 4 x 200m relay, Alfie with his team mates Rhys, Ben and a guest runner brought the baton home half a lap ahead of the 2nd placed team – another Gold, and finished off a great day with his first competition in a long time under his belt

Montell was looking forward to competing at Lee Valley and it has been a long time coming. He’s always loved the atmosphere at the Lee Valley Indoor Athletics Arena. His first event was the 4 x 60m relay with his team mates Hollie, Amy and John where they won Gold – what an amazing start. Next came the shot, his favourite event, where, with a throw of 9.70 metres, his beaming smile said it all. Last event for him was the 60m where he finished second with a time of 11.74. Montell was rightly proud of his performances with his 2 Golds and 1 Sliver medal. He appreciates the brilliant support he got from his coaches including Yvonne and lsaac . His mother, Jenny says ‘We are very thankful to the families that got us to the competition and we all had a great day’

Ben was really looking forward to Lee Valley, although he was very nervous as he hadn’t competed for such a long time. His first event was the 200m. Not sure who was more nervous, Ben or his family, he flew off the blocks to get his first Gold with a time of 30.17. Then on to the shot where his first two attempts were ‘no throws’, but managed to keep his cool and produced a throw of 5.30 – his second Gold of the day. Ben’s confidence was growing. Then on to his final event, the 4 X 200m relay, where he was joined by Alfie, Rhys and a guest runner and they stormed it – Ben’s third Gold! Team Special Olympics Suffolk, with the help and dedication of their coaches, had a perfect day at their first competition in almost 3 years

Rhys was excited but nervous for his first competition back, especially as he doesn’t like the indoor running track. It was an anxious wait till 2pm for the 200m. Rhys did brilliantly coming in 3rd with Bronze in 29.00 secs, only missing 2nd by a split second. This gave him confidence for the Long jump where he jumped into second place and Silver with a jump of 4.01m. To finish off his day, Rhys was part of the final race of the day, the 4 x 200m relay, where with Ben, Alfie and a guest runner  they produced an amazing performance and yet another Gold. Rhys came away very happy and really enjoyed competing again.

Taking advantage of this momentous day for Special Olympics Suffolk athletes, Hollie ran exceptionally well in her 60m sprint and was looking to take Gold but unfortunately fell about 2 metres from the line to finish in 14.76s –  so proud that despite this setback, she got up and continued like a true professional. Her second event was the mixed 4 x 60m relay where, with the team encouraging each other, they took Gold. Hollie’s final event was the shot, an event in which she had not previously taken part. To her and her family’s amazement, she took Gold with a distance of 3.76m. Overall, Hollie’s performances were such that she’s someone to watch out for at future events!

This was John’s first ever competition and he performed amazingly. His first event was the 4 x 60m relay and together with team mates Montell, Amy and Hollie he ran a brilliant leg to help bring home yet another Gold medal for Special Olympics Suffolk.  His second event was the 60 metres where he was placed second with a time of 11.65 and a Silver medal. His final event was the shot where his 3rd place with 4.69 gained him the Bronze medal

As already mentioned, this was the first competition for the Special Olympics Suffolk athletics team since the pandemic – the first time to compete in almost 3 years. The athletes were very excited and determined to do their very best from the warm up to the last event. A special word of thanks goes to all the coaches who have helped them not only on the day but in their weekly training at Northgate.  The coaches, and indeed the athletes, are also very appreciative of all the support from the parents and carers – a great all round team effort which bodes well for the remainder of the year and beyond.

A holiday surprise

One of our Special Olympics Suffolk Badminton players, Dan and his family, came across this public art while visiting Dublin recently. It was recognising the 2003 Special Olympics World Games which were held in Ireland, the first ones to be outside the USA . “It was a great surprise to see something so close to our hearts whilst on holiday!”, said Stephen (Dan’s Dad).

Inclusive Badminton continues to grow with ActivLives

Special Olympics Suffolk partner ActivLives, hosted their latest Inclusive Badminton Tournament recently at Whitton Sports Centre in Ipswich, with 23 athletes competing in both singles and doubles events.

The standard of play was excellent throughout the day with some extremely close matches deciding the final medal placings, across the various divisions.

This was the second ActivLives tournament since the pandemic and the first to include competitors from another Inclusive/Special Olympics club. Four players from the Anders Disability Badminton Charity, based in Wimbledon, also competed. The event concluded with a very exciting Team Relay match, involving all 23 of the competitors.   

“We have had such positive feedback from the players and families, as a result of this event. Everyone has commented upon the great team of volunteers who made this event happen. Huge thanks must go to them as events like this simply wouldn’t take place if it wasn’t for the volunteers who organise and deliver them”, said Mike McCarthy from ActivLives.

ActivLives are very grateful to everyone who continues to support these events including Special Olympics Suffolk, Suffolk Community Foundation, Active Suffolk, Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council.

If you would like to find out more about inclusive badminton with ActivLives, call on 01473 345350 or email