TWO athletes from Keighley are among five who this month flew to Abu Dhabi to compete in the Special Olympics.

James Reed-Griffiths and T-Jay Wilson are competing in the horse-riding sections of the Special Olympics World Games in the Middle Eastern country.

Along with basketball player Neil Hartley, cyclist Ella Curtis and golfer Mark Rhodes they attended a civic send-off in Keighley.

They were sent on their way by Keighley deputy mayor Peter Corkindale, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Bradford Cllr Martin Smith, Bradford Council leader Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, and Cllr Sarah Ferriby, Bradford’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places.

The VIP gathering at Keighley Civic Centre took place before the five athletes and cycling coach Tim Curtis, all from Bradford district, headed off to join fellow members of Team GB for the flight out.

The Special Olympics World games are taking place between Thursdays March 14 and 21. They are a multi-sport event for athletes with intellectual disabilities in the tradition of the Special Olympics movement.

The quintet were brought together by Bradford Disability Sport and Leisure (BDSL)

BDSL chairman Hilary White said: “We are both delighted and proud to have five athletes and one coach from the Bradford district picked to represent Team GB in this Year’s World Special Olympic Games.

“It goes to show that hard work, dedication and commitment pays off. We wish them lots of luck and want them all to go to Abu Dhabi and enjoy themselves and do their best.”

Cllr Ferriby said: “We wish our Bradford athletes and coach lots of luck in the Special Olympic Games. We are very proud of what they have achieved, and they will be representing themselves and the Bradford district.”

The event in Abu Dhabi, part of the United Arab Emirates, is the 15th Special Olympics World Games.

More than 7,500 athletes from more than 190 nations will participate in what has been called the world’s biggest sports and humanitarian event in 2019, and the most unified Games in the 50-year history of Special Olympics. There are 127 athletes in the GB Team with individuals competing in 18 different sports.

The games in Abu Dhabi 2019 will kick off with an Opening Ceremony on March 14, featuring with a parade, cauldron lighting and a series of moving performances in the Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi.

Khalfan Al Mazrouei, managing director of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, said: “The opening ceremony of the World Games will encapsulate the spirit, drive and passion of the athletes as they prepare to take part in the largest sporting event ever held for sportsmen and women with intellectual disabilities.

“The ceremony will act as a dynamic and awe-inspiring display of hope, happiness, unity and inclusiveness that will project the shared message of Special Olympics, the World Games and the UAE – that people of determination are an equal and essential part of our families, our schools, our workplaces and our communities.

Visit or to see footage of the games during the week.