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  1. ITV Report

Special Olympics Wales team given send-off at the Senedd

Welsh athletes will be competing against others from around Great Britain in Bath next month. Photo: ITV News

The Welsh team for this year's Special Olympics GB National Summer Games have been given a send-off at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.

The games are for athletes with intellectual disabilities, once every four years.

This year they are being held in Bath, from 28 August to 1 September.There are 12 sports on offer, from athletics to boccia, and tennis to ten-pin-bowling.

Around 1,700 athletes from around Great Britain will be competing.

The Welsh team is made up of 144 competitors, coaches and carers.

The athletes were all wearing their new kits and standing proudly behind the Welsh flag. Credit: ITV News

Dozens of them were in Cardiff Bay today, showing off their new Welsh kit, and meeting the Welsh Government Minister for Culture and Sport, John Griffiths.

Ann Jenkins is 45 and from Caerphilly county. She won a number of medals in the national games in Leicester in 2009, and is competing again in ten-pin bowling in Bath. She says she feels proud of herself, and what she has achieved in the sport.

Shain Lewis will be the only Welsh tennis player at the games this summer, and says, although the competition is good-natured, there is a rivalry with his English opponents. He is 21 and from Builth Wells, and described being part of the big Wales team as "an honour."

Jemma Bowie-Ham is 15 and from Milford Haven. She is doing gymnastics in Bath, and says she enjoys competing in the sport.

Mark Merrett has won two gold, three silver and one bronze medal in golf at Special Olympics National Games in previous years. He is 43 and from Penarth, and describes lining up alongside his teammates as "a proud moment."

Michael Beynon is 18 and from Ammanford. He is competing in athletics this summer, and says he has found his best friends through Special Olympics sport.

Jeff Savory, the Chairman of Special Olympics Wales, says the Special Olympics gives people with intellectual disabilities a "wonderful" opportunity "to show what they can achieve."

The number of athletes Wales is sending to the games has fallen substantially from previous years.

Jon Morgan, the Executive Director at Disability Sport Wales, puts that decline down to a reduction in the number of sports this year - and insists Wales is "one of the most inclusive nations in the UK" for disability sport.

Culture and Sport Minister John Griffiths says the Welsh Government has increased its funding for the Special Olympics this year, and that there has been real progress in terms of disability sport opportunities and club membership around Wales.

We will have much more coverage in the build-up to, and during, the Summer Games on our website and on air in the coming weeks.

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