On behalf of the college, we would like to extend our message of support to our ex-Oaklands College students and current Special Olympians, who have travelled to Abu Dhabi for the World Games on 14th March 2019!
Special Olympics GB is the largest provider of year-round, all ability, sports programme in Great Britain and supports over 10,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities on a continued basis and are celebrating their 40th year as an organisation.
Thousands of participants and spectators will take part in the Games, with an estimated 7,000 Special Olympics athletes and 2,600 coaches who will arrive early to get used to the time-zone and temperature changes.
Abu Dhabi will provide an impressive 20,000 volunteers and up to 500,000 spectators for the event, giving Team GB's stars the ultimate experience in their quest for medals.
Roared on by support all around the World, up to 6,000 family members of the competing athletes will also get chance to travel to Abu Dhabi to show their support, with an estimated 2,000 reporters, photographers, videographers and bloggers there to capture every moment for international media outlets.
A momentous occasions for all athletes, who will be inspired by an estimated 4,000 honorary guests, of whom a lot of athletes look up to.
Team GB, whose official Olympics squad was announced today, will compete in 17 different Sports, with athletes representing their country in Athletics, Basketball, Cycling, Equestrian, Football, Power-lifting, gymnastics, swimming and many more.
Excitingly, Oaklands College will have two athletes with a close affiliation to the college, having previously attended as students.
Thomas Miller, a former Landmark student who currently volunteers at the colleges state-of-the-art Equestrian Centre, will compete in the Level A Equestrian discipline and will be gunning for Gold, to add to the two Silver medals he achieved at the Eastern Region Games in 2017.
Speaking before he departs for the United Arab Emirates, Thomas said: "I want to do my very best in Abu Dhabi and try to win a medal for my country!"
Thomas, who helps current Oaklands College Equine students from Levels 1-3, has spent the past 6 years looking after Haflinger Horses in the Highlands of Scotland during summer break, where he has honed his skills even further!
Also competing is former student and Special Olympics veteran Philip Nicholls, who has been competing since 1998! Philip will race in the Breaststroke & Freestyle swimming disciplines.
Philip, who has swam his way to a plethora of medals at Regional events, also has 9 medals from just 4 National Games and will be hoping he can emulate his hero Adam Peaty by winning Gold in the Breaststroke discipline.
Interestingly, Special Olympics GB also work alongside local St Albans company Earthworks, who encourage people of all abilities to learn and work together, caring for the environment across a magnificent 3.5 acreage in Hixberry Lane, St Albans. If you're interested in learning more, visit their website here
On behalf of everyone at Oaklands College, we wish all of Team GB the best of luck in Abu Dhabi and hope they thoroughly enjoy what promises to be a momentous occasion and celebration of sport.
Thomas Miller, a now full-time volunteer for the Oaklands Equine Yard, won a Gold medal his Level A Equestrian discipline!