Special Olympics Great Britain has today secured participation in the Judo competition at the Berlin 2023 Special Olympics World Games, with Sean Allan being selected as the sole British athlete who will compete on the world stage.
Sean lives near Castle Douglas, Scotland. He attends Dumfries & Galloway College and Better Lives Partnership, and trains regularly at Castle Douglas Judo Club. He will be part of the Team Special Olympics World Games delegation of more than 80 athletes in June, who will compete alongside more than 7,000 other athletes with intellectual disabilities from around the world.
Joining Sean in Berlin is coach Luke Struthers, who runs the Castle Douglas Judo Club and Dumfries Judo Academy and also works as West Scotland Regional Development Officer for JudoScotland.
“Sean has been on an incredible journey since he first came to the Judo club as an eight-year-old in 2011,” said Luke. “He was initially quite shy and struggled to adjust to the different environment, but his confidence levels have soared and he’s a very popular athlete within the club.
“Being able to compete at a Special Olympics World Games is a fantastic opportunity for Sean. Whilst he has previously medalled in the East Scotland Special Needs Judo Championships, competitive opportunities for him can be limited and he has been waiting a long time for this opportunity. Everyone at the club is very excited for him and will be following his progress closely.”
Sean trains at Castle Douglas Judo Club three times a week, whilst also honing his skills at home. Judo is a big part of his family life with his brother and foster brother currently volunteering as coaches at the club, and his foster mother acting as the Welfare Officer.
As Sean’s coach, Luke has been running Castle Douglas Judo Club as a volunteer since 2001 with the club founded originally by his father Robert Davidson in 1981. He has been a qualified coach for 23 years and he works with 107 athletes at the Castle Douglas and Dumfries clubs.
Colin Dyer, Chief Executive of Special Olympics GB, said: “We’re delighted to confirm Judo as our 17th and final sport for Berlin 2023, and to give Sean the opportunity to be part of Team Special Olympics GB and compete against other athletes with intellectual disabilities from around the world.
“However, none of this would be possible without volunteer coaches like Luke, who are giving up their time to provide the necessary support that allows our athletes to enjoy what is potentially a transformational experience away from their families and home.
“Taking a team of more 80 athletes, with intellectual disabilities, to compete overseas does present many challenges and we are also incredibly grateful to Jingle Jam for raising money to sponsor and support our operational costs for the event.”
Special Olympics GB was last year announced as one of 12 charity partners of Jingle Jam, the world’s biggest charity gaming event. The 14-day-long gaming-fest in December raised more than £200,000 to help the Special Olympics GB send its team of athletes, volunteer coaches and volunteer support and medical staff to Berlin 2023.
Across the country, Special Olympics GB is the UK’s largest provider of year-round sports training and competition for children and adults of all abilities with intellectual disabilities. More than 6,500 athletes are currently registered and are participating at one of the 95 accredited programmes within Scotland, England and Wales, which are delivered by a devoted team of around 3,500 volunteers.