Torch for Special Olympics passes through Wakefield

Athletes hoping to bring home medals for Wakefield in the largest disability multi-sport event in the country were given a warm welcome as the official torch for the games passed through the city.

Crowds gathered outside the town hall this lunchtime to see West Yorkshrie Police Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams run down Wood Street with the 'Flame of Hope'.

Crowds pose with the torch

Crowds pose with the torch

The torch is making its way to Sheffield for the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics GB National Games on Tuesday.

Some of the 12 Wakefield athletes competing in the championships joined the torch on its leg through the city.

Among them was Steven Mathur, 34, who will take part in the competition for the third time.

Footballer Mr Mathur said: "It has been very memorable and enjoyable, experiencing new things and seeing new places.

The torch handover at the end of the route.

The torch handover at the end of the route.

"We have been doing a lot of training and are feeling very excited about the games.

"There's been a really good atmosphere in Wakefield today, a lot of people have come out to cheer us on."

Assistant Chief Constable Williams ran with the torch from outside the force's headquarter building on Laburnum Road.

She made her way along Wood Street, down to the city centre shopping precinct and back up to the town hall, where she and the running party were greeted by Mayor of Wakefield Coun Kevin Barker.

He said: "Thank you all for coming to Wakefield. It has been great to see everybody. We hope to see you back again with all the medals."

The games is the biggest sporting event to take place in the country for people with intellectual and learning disabilities.

This year is the 10th time the championship has been held and the second time that Sheffield has played host to it.

Around 2,600 athletes are expected to compete in 20 different sports

Wakefield's team of athletes includes four swimmers, two footballers and six indoor bowlers.

Doreen Manousios, of Special Olympics Wakefield, said: "I'm very excited for all the athletes but particularly for the four people who will be having their first time at the games. It's going to be a very exciting time for them, meeting new friends and competing in the right spirit.

"I'm feeling optimistic that they can come back with some medals. They have trained very well and deserve them."

The games run from Monday until Saturday, August 12.

And the official opening ceremony will be held at Bramall Lane stadium on Tuesday night.

Singer Tony Hadley, formerly of Spandau Ballet, will be the evening's headline act, whilst Wakefield sports pundit Chris Kamara will host the show alongside Jim Carter from Downton Abbey and broadcaster Suzi Perry.