Nine East Lancashire athletes have been selected to represent the country at the first Special Olympics National Winter Games.

Special Olympics Great Britain has announced that nine athletes from Rossendale Special Ski Club will participate at the competition in Folgaria, Italy.

Special Olympics GB will stage alpine skiing and figure skating events for athletes with intellectual disabilities from January 27 to February 3.

In total, 73 athletes from England, Scotland, and Wales will participate at the games.

From Rossendale, these will be Mackenzie Baker, James Barclay, Jason Chu, David Corr, Cameron de Vial, Matt Evans, Jack Holgate, Will Shepherd, and Emily Ward.

Colin Dyer, chief executive of Special Olympics GB, said: “We’re delighted to expand our programme of competitions by staging this first National Winter Games.

“Competing in national and international events has proven to be transformational for many of our athletes, inspiring them to develop new life skills and make changes, which support their independence and career.

“We’re incredibly grateful to Special Olympics Grampian club for investing so much time in planning this event, as the host club, and to Inclusive Skating for being our delivery partner on all figure skating events. Special thanks also go to our partners as their funding ensures that our athletes receive a world class sporting experience during this event.”

Special Olympics GB is being supported in its delivery of the National Winter Games by The Ski Company and Alpe Cimbra.

The competition will support the selection process for the subsequent Special Olympics World Winter Games, which takes place in Torino, Italy, from March 8-16, 2025.

Across England, Scotland, and Wales, Special Olympics GB provides regular sporting opportunities for more than 6,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Its 95 accredited clubs offer training and competition in 27 different sports, which are delivered by a team of 3,800 volunteers.