Hartford Nationals to come to Shelby County

Published 11:44 am Monday, July 3, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

The Hartford Nationals will soon return to the Birmingham area with competitions set to take place in Hoover and Pelham.

The Hartford Nationals have been providing athletic opportunities to people of physical and mental disability for 66 years and will return this year for one week, from July 8 to July 15 with a variety of sports,  including archery, wheelchair tennis and swimming.

For the purposes of the competition, a variety of venues in Shelby County will be used, including Spain Park High School and Oak Mountain State Park on July 9.

The city of Hoover is expected to host both the 2023 and the 2024 Hartford Nationals after a nationwide bid process.

“As one of the most diverse cities in Alabama, the city of Hoover makes an intentional effort to make sure everyone feels included and empowered,” Hoover Mayor Frank V. Brocato said. “We are excited to share our facilities with the Move United team and those of all abilities. We also look forward to welcoming all of the athletes to our area and showing them an experience filled with smiles and southern charm.”

The cities of Birmingham and Hoover were chosen for the 2023 Hartford Nationals by Move United, the national leader of community-based sports and athletics for individuals with disabilities.

The Hartford Nationals are the largest and longest-running national sports championship for disabled athletes, having been founded in 1957, 11 years before the creation of the Special Olympics in 1968.

In order for an athlete to compete in the Hartford Nationals, they must have qualified through their performance at a local or regional Move United Sanctioned Competitions, a national governing body, a high school athletic association sanctioned event or another event approved by Move United.

This year’s competition will mark the first time in years where athletes over the age of 22 will be able to compete in events, as the adult division was closed in 1995. Move United has decided to combine the adult and youth events in the hope of allowing adult athletes, veterans and paralympians another venue to compete in.

The city of Hoover, along with groups such as The Lakeshore Foundation and Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau, will organize and host over 400 athletes and coaches of all ages. Athletic events will be taking place all over Jefferson and Shelby counties, and Move United is actively seeking volunteers for all events.

For a complete list of Athletic events and times be sure to visit: https://moveunitedsport.org/app/uploads/2023/03/2023-Nationals-Fact-Sheet.pdf.