Golfers with learning disabilities will be among the competitors in the Special Olympics GB national games this summer, with the support of England Golf and The R&A.
They will be among 2600 athletes with intellectual disabilities who will gather in Sheffield in August for four days of sports competition, supported by 800 coaches, 9000 volunteers and over 6000 family members and friends.
The golf programme, which is being supported by The R&A, will take place at Rother Valley Golf Club and is the culmination of three years of work between England Golf and Special Olympics GB to create more opportunities for golfers with intellectual impairments.
In that time, the number of golfers registered with Special Olympics GB has risen from 150 to over 430 and it is set to grow further in 2017. Golf will be offered through the Special Olympics GB network in Tyne and Wear, Suffolk, York and, to create a legacy from the national games, in Rotherham. It is hoped these projects will introduce another 300 people to golf.
Among the golfers at the national games will be Yorkshire’s Mark Rhodes (pictured), the winner of the 2016 Bradford Disability Sports Personality Award.
Mark, a member at Rawdon Golf Club, will be part of the Bradford Disability Sport and Leisure athletic squad taking part in Sheffield next August. He claimed his place when he won a nine-hole qualifier at Bromsgrove Golf Centre featuring golfers from across the country and Wales.
His mum, Janet said: "Mark has worked hard to learn and practise his golf. I am so proud of him and hope his success encourages other people with disabilities to try the sport."
Jamie Blair, England Golf Disability Manager, commented: “It is really positive to see The R&A invest in these games and support GB athletes.
“Golf has benefited many disabled people and we hope these games will encourage many more, especially those with an intellectual impairment to try the sport and enjoy all it has to offer.”
Click here for more information on the Special Olympic GB national games, which take place from August 7-12.