Thousands of Special Olympics athletes, families and staff were hosted by the University of Sheffield at their student accommodation this week (7 – 12 August 2017).
The University’s Endcliffe / Ranmoor, Halifax Hall and Jonas sites have become the official Olympic village for the 2017 games and is accommodating over 3000 athletes, coaches, carers, officials and volunteers, providing 6,500 meals per day across five dining rooms.
The tenth multi-sports event, which last visited the City in 1993, was focused on athletes with intellectual disabilities and is the only other games to bear the official Olympic title.
The athletes competed at fourteen sporting venues around the city and beyond, with the Opening Ceremony taking place at the Sheffield United football stadium on Tuesday evening.
The Edge Paddock at Endcliffe was home to the Olympic Athletes Village, providing recreational and fun activities when the athletes were on site between competitions. Friday night saw the grand finale to the week with a farewell celebration on the Edge Paddock and Piazza.
Deborah Tilbrook, General Manager for Hospitality at the University of Sheffield, said: “Creating a welcoming environment for all of the athletes, coaches, families and officials involved in these Special Olympics has been a pleasure and privilege.
“The whole team from Accommodation and Commercial Services have taken time out of their usual role to welcome athletes to our accommodation, ensure that the 6,500 meals per day were served quickly and efficiently, and to provide support from being a human signpost to guide people around the village, to sharing the athletes proud moments when they returned in the evening wearing their hard won medals.
“We would be honoured to welcome the Special Olympics Games teams back in the future and we hope that their stay with us was enjoyable and memorable.”
The University has worked in collaboration with Sheffield City Council to bring the event to the city of Sheffield, with the event bringing thousands of visitors to the city and providing a boost to the economy.
Councillor Mary Lea, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Parks, said: “The Special Olympic National Games has been brilliant and it was great to work with the University of Sheffield which hosted the athletes in their student accommodation. It’s been wonderful to watch the whole city get behind the Games and support the athletes.”
The Special Olympics team were impressed by the design of student accommodation – especially the extensive green space, the high quality bedrooms, generously sized and accessible dining areas, wide walkways and an abundance of recreational space for athletes to enjoy.
The University boasts a wide range of high quality conference and hospitality services with all profits made from commercial activities going straight back into the University to benefit students.