Special Olympics 2023: Team GB arrive in Germany for elite games for intellectual disabilities

The Special Olympics Great Britain squad.
The Special Olympics Great Britain squad. Credit: Special Olympics Great Britain

A team of 82 athletes have arrived in Germany to represent Great Britain at the 2023 Special Olympics. 

The event, which is the pinnacle of competitive sport for people with intellectual disabilities, kicks off with the Opening Ceremony in Berlin on June 17. 

Team SOGB will join more than 7,000 competitors from 170 countries to compete in 26 different sports, from badminton to powerlifting. 

The entire team will be spending a few days in the city of Stuttgart first, before moving into their hotel in Berlin.

Niamh Mourton, head coach of the GB Athletics Team said: “They’re incredible. They've been working really hard over the last few years, keeping active to make sure they’re ready”.  

Colin Dyer, Chief Executive of Special Olympics Great Britain, added: “Everybody has seen people competing in the Olympics and Paralympics. For these guys this is just the same; competing at the Special Olympics and representing your country.”

The Special Olympics GB squad were greeted by a brass band when they landed in Germany

What is the Special Olympics?

The Special Olympics World Games will see athletes with intellectual disabilities from 190 countries compete across 26 Olympic-type summer sports over nine days.

The world's largest inclusive sporting event takes place every four years and has been running since 1968. 

The aim of the Special Olympics is to give people with intellectual disabilities the chance to compete at an elite level and promote diversity in sport.  

The summer games will be the largest sporting and humanitarian event in the world this year.

What is an intellectual disability?

An intellectual disability is the most common developmental disability. 

There are many kinds of intellectual disabilities and many causes, including Fragile X, Down Syndrome and autism. 

At the Special Olympics, ID (intellectual disability) describes a person with certain limitations in cognitive functioning and other skills, including communication and self-care.

What's different about the Special Olympics?

Special Olympics competitions are structured so that athletes compete with other athletes of similar ability in “equitable divisions”. 

This means that athletes are matched up with others of the same gender, about the same age and most importantly, of about the same skill level.

This 'divisioning' process takes place at the start of the summer games, and is one of the biggest differences between the Special Olympics and other elite competitions. 

The Special Olympics will take place in Berlin from 17 -25 June.