Athletes with a learning disability gather at National Athletics Championships in Manchester

Mencap sport athletics runners

Last Saturday (28 June), nearly 100 people with a learning disability came from across the UK to compete in The Royal Mencap Society’s Seventeenth Open National Athletics Championships at Manchester Regional Arena, at Sportcity . They were joined by Paralympic gold medal winning athlete, Jessica-Jane Applegate MBE, who has a learning disability and the Mayor of Manchester, Susan Cooley, who both presented the medals to the winners.

Just under a 100 athletes took part in the championships with competitors competing in 13 athletic disciplines, including the 100m, 400m, 5000m, javelin, discus, long jump and high jump.

In addition to the Open National Athletics Championships, the day also hosted the Festival of Athletics for those with more severe learning disabilities, which enabled people with a learning disability of all athletic ability to take part in sporting competition.

One of the athletes who competed at the event, said:

“I’ve been looking forward to these championships for months, and my training has all been focussed to this event. Competing alongside so many other top athletes seems to bring out the best in me and I even managed to break my personal best in one event.”

Jessica Applegate with the winners

Jessica Applegate with the winners

The event was organised by Mencap Sport who were further supported on the day by 65 staff, volunteers and officials and Manchester City Council. Volunteers helped out with everything from assisting officials on the field to sorting medals for the winners.

Mencap’s National Sport Manager, Ian Carpenter, who attended the event said:

“The Open Athletics Championships are a highlight on Mencap’s sporting calendar.  It is a celebration of the achievements of elite athletes and reminds us all, that people with a learning disability should have the opportunity to take part in elite sport.

“We are lucky to have had a brilliant group of volunteers as  without them this day would not have been possible. I would  like to say a huge thank you to them and everyone who supported the event  I’d   also like to say a special thank you to Manchester City Council for their  support.”

The Mayor of Manchester, Susan Cooley, commented:

“I am proud that Manchester has hosted the Open Athletics Championships and that we have been able to work closely with Mencap to make the day a real success.

“It was a true privilege to present the prizes and meet the athletes, who displayed amazing sporting prowess.

“I’m sure the example set by the competitors will inspire people to be more active and is a reminder that there should be no barriers for participating in sport at the highest level.”

For more information on the Open Learning Disability National Athletics Championships, visit:

About Mencap Sport

Mencap Sport believes that people with a learning disability should have the same opportunities to participate, enjoy and excel in sport at all levels. Mencap Sport works with the governing bodies of sport and other sports providers to promote opportunities for people with a learning disability at all levels.

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