Special Olympics GB athlete captures spirit of Guinness Six Nations
By Tom Harle
An inspirational Special Olympic GB athlete turned artist has captured the spirit of the Guinness Six Nations with vivid drawings of the Championship’s six iconic venues.
Niall Guite, a cyclist and member of Special Olympics Sheffield, started drawing in lockdown and raised more than £6,000 for the charity with illustrations of 26 football stadiums.
His work has been praised by Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry on social media and last year was exhibited at the Royal Academy of the Arts’ Summer Exhibition.
Now Niall’s artistic passion has been drawn to Rugby’s Greatest Championship and ahead of the 2023 tournament he has produced drawings of Twickenham Stadium, Principality Stadium, Stade de France, Murrayfield, Aviva Stadium and Stadio Olimpico.
“I have always been a fan of rugby and watch the Six Nations every year,” Niall said.
“One of the great things about rugby is that all of the fans sit together.
“I wanted to honour the games and the best players that I’ve seen through the use of colour, to capture the uniqueness of each stadium and the support from each nation’s home fans.”
Special Olympics GB uses sport to empower children and adults with an intellectual disability and enhance their health and wellbeing.
The next Special Olympics World Games will be staged this summer, in Berlin, from 17-25 June.
Jack Grealish is Special Olympics GB’s Principal Ambassador with the Manchester City and England football star committing to raising visibility of the charity’s work.
Niall said: “Jack is going to bring a wider and younger audience to the Special Olympics GB. It’s brilliant he’s involved and it’s great to have him on our team!
“As an ambassador, he’s recognising the impact that sport can have on everyone and he can help get even more people involved.”
In 2022 trailblazer Niall became the first Special Olympic GB athlete to deliver a TED Talk, through the University of Manchester’s TEDx programme.
The calmest man in the green room, Niall spoke for 12 minutes about his ‘Art with a Special Goal’ fundraising project and his journey with the Special Olympics GB.
Niall said: “I felt honoured to be invited and to represent people like me who have an intellectual disability.
“I worked very hard to get to that stage, it took me four months and lots of editing to write the speech! I felt my message was really listened to and I met some amazing people.”
Niall started out as a basketball player and then switched to cycling to ensure he could continue to attend the Special Olympics.
He trains on the track and in cyclo-cross in preparation for the 2023 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships.
“I wanted a sport that would challenge and push me as a person,” he said. “My dad is a cyclist so it made sense to start there.
“The support of Special Olympics GB has been massive. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
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.
For further details on Niall’s art, please visit NiallGuite.com