The University of Stirling will welcome thousands of athletes, coaches and spectators to campus next summer for the Special Olympics Anniversary Games.
Around 1,200 athletes, 2,500 relatives and 400 coaches and officials will descend on Stirling in August 2018 for the Games, which celebrates the 40th birthday of Special Olympics GB and the 50 years since the founding of the worldwide movement.
The organisations provide sports training and competition opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities in England, Scotland and Wales. The event will see athletes compete in boccia, badminton, table tennis, football, swimming, athletics, cycling, golf and netball.
Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, welcomed the announcement, made at a special launch event at the on-campus Stirling Court Hotel.
He said: “We are delighted that the University of Stirling will host the Special Olympics Anniversary Games in August 2018.
“As Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, Stirling is proud to be affiliated with this event, which celebrates the excellent work of the Special Olympics in transforming lives through the joy of sport while striving to end discrimination.
“At Stirling, we’re proud that the work of our staff, students and alumni makes a tangible difference to people’s lives around the world – and that’s clearly a passion we share with the Special Olympics.
“As a keen sports fan, I am looking forward to seeing some of the wide range of sports – including swimming, cycling, football and table tennis.
“We look forward to giving the 1,200 athletes, their families, support staff and fans a warm Stirling welcome when they arrive on campus next year.”
The Games will begin with an Opening Ceremony on Thursday, 9 August with the competition beginning the following day. The event will run from Friday to Sunday, concluding with a Closing Ceremony.
During the event, marquees will host a fan zone and family zone, while all athletes and coaches will stay in on-campus accommodation.
Olympic medallist swimmer Robbie Renwick, who attended the launch, said: “Participating in sport gave me the best experiences in my life.
“Putting in hard work and seeing the results is a great feeling. Sport brings people together and that’s exactly what Special Olympics does every day for people with a learning disability.”
The Special Olympics global movement was set up in 1968 by President JFK’s sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver, while Special Olympics GB was launched in 1978.
Karen Wallin, CEO of Special Olympics GB, said: “We are thrilled that Stirling and its University’s excellent facilities will be hosting our very special Anniversary Games in August 2018.
“This will not only celebrate our 40th anniversary in Great Britain and 50 years of Special Olympics worldwide but also give over a thousand Special Olympics athletes the chance to compete in a prestigious Games and make new friends and memories.”