Team GB all set for Special Olympics
• 1 MINUTE READ
A team of six tennis players from Great Britain are all set to compete in the 2019 Special Olympics World Games later today. The 2019 World Games, which are taking place from 14 – 21 March in Abu Dhabi, will see teams from all over the world competing in seven days of competition, across 24 different sports. The tennis runs from 15 – 20 March, with the six tennis players part of an overall Special Olympics Great Britain squad of 129 athletes.
Looking to capitalise on the success of the last World Games in 2015, where Great Britain won a total of six medals (5 gold and 1 bronze), this year’s team will compete in a range of singles and doubles events and will be led by Head Coach Mel Whitehead (Nottingham), assisted by Lesley Whitehead (Scotland West).
Team GB Tennis Squad:
- Ryan Caven , aged 15 (Lincolnshire)
- Jack Dickson, aged 20 (Troon)
- Fiona Lane, aged 32 (Barnstaple)
- Lily Mills, aged 18 (Islington)
- Frances Smiley, aged 19 (Prestwick)
- Ben Tyler, aged 20 (Hampshire)
Established at the Special Olympics in 1987, Special Olympics tennis is conducted under ITF rules, but has been modified slightly to control the length of matches through no-add scoring and options for short sets. More recently, Special Olympics has introduced additional options for shorter courts and low-compression balls for athletes of lower ability.
Athletes in every sport and event are grouped by age, gender and ability – giving everyone a fair chance of winning. At Special Olympics, there are no world records because each athlete, whether in the fastest or slowest division is valued and recognised equally. In every division, athletes receive an award (from gold, silver and bronze medals, through to fourth-eighth place ribbons). As a guide, athletes rated between 1.0 & 2.9 play mini red, 3.0 & 3.9 mini orange, 4.0 & 4.9 mini green, 5.0 & 8.0 full court tennis.
Special Olympics is for athletes with intellectual disabilities - including autism, Down's Syndrome and other learning disabilities. It is not an elite competition for only the very best, but is instead about personal achievement and them reaching their own maximum potential. Learning disability accounts for around 70% of participants involved in the LTA’s disability tennis programme. Each year the Special Olympics GB National Tennis Competition is run in November in conjunction with the LTA.
Where to watch
Watch the Special Olympics World Games on ESPN from 14-21 March.