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Leicester Athletes to Head to Berlin for 2023 Special Olympic Games

Leicester Time: Leicester Athletes to Head to Berlin for 2023 Special Olympic Games

Two basketball players from Leicester have been selected to represent Team Special Olympics GB, at next year’s Special Olympics World Games.

Fatima Omarji and Julie Freestone are amongst the first athletes to be named in the Team SOGB squad when the 16th Special Olympics World Games will be held in Berlin, for the first time, next summer (June 17-25).

Leicester Time: Leicester Athletes to Head to Berlin for 2023 Special Olympic Games
Picture: Fatima Omarji and Julie Freestone

Both women will be representing the Great Britain basketball team.

Fatima, has been playing basketball for 15 years after being talent scouted back in September 2007.

Since then, she has gone onto win gold, silver and bronze medals in her Basketball career, competing at regional level for Leicester Sharp Special Olympics Club and National level for the East Midlands team.

“It will be my first world games, I’m excited and honoured to represent my country for the first time,” she said of her latest achievement.

36-year-old Julie has also been playing basketball for over a decade. She was selected for the Special Olympics after previously competing in the UK National Games in basketball, winning a joint gold medal with Scotland and also a bronze medal after competing against the male team.

As well as being an excellent basketball player, Julie is also said to excel at football.

Colin Dyer, CEO of Special Olympics GB, said: “Huge congratulations to all of our athletes who have been selected to represent Team SOGB at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Berlin 2023.

“To represent Team SOGB as an athlete with intellectual disabilities deserves the highest praise and recognition. Given the incredibly challenging circumstances that we have encountered in recent years, winning a place in the Special Olympics World Games squad is not only an incredibly proud moment for our athletes, but for their loved ones and our fantastic team of volunteers who make Special Olympics GB happen.”

Special Olympics GB provides year-round sports training and competition for children and adults of all abilities with intellectual disabilities in the UK. Its team for Berlin 2023 will compete in sports ranging from athletics, swimming, artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, cycling and many more including team sports such as basketball and unified football. Athletes will be supported by 28 coaches and a further 22 support and medical staff.

“For our athletes making up Team SOGB, representing your country is a massive honour and we are very much looking forward to working with them all over the next few months to ensure they are ready to have the best possible time at the Games,” said Stephen Walker, head of delegation for the Special Olympics World Summer Games.

“The Special Olympics World Games 2023 will be a celebration of inclusion, and we cannot wait to see our athletes in action doing their country proud.”

The Special Olympics World Summer Games in Berlin follows on from the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi in 2019. It will be the world’s largest inclusive sporting event in 2023 with more than 7,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities competing across 26 sports over nine days.

To show support for Special Olympics GB and help its fundraising drive for the 2023 World Summer Games, visit: www.justgiving.com/campaign/SOGBWorldGames2023

Leicester Time: Leicester Athletes to Head to Berlin for 2023 Special Olympic Games