Reflecting on the Spirit in Sport

Three professional athletes will join academics from the University of Aberdeen to consider the role of spirituality in sport ahead of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Olympic gold medallist Jason Gardener MBE, silver Paralympic medallist Stefanie Reid, and gold Special Olympic medallist Peter Loftus will share their stories at an event organised by the Kairos Forum.

The Kairos Forum, is a social enterprise within the University of Aberdeen. It provides innovative training within the field of disability, spirituality, communication and religious practice and will hold a one day conference in London on 12 June with another event planned ahead of the Commonwealth Games Glasgow on 17 July.

Entitled The Spirit in Sport, the conference is aimed at those with an interest in sport and spirituality at all levels.

The athletes will tell their own stories but reflect on their lives in sport from a theological perspective.

Jason Gardener is a retired sprint athlete who won Gold in the men’s 4 x 100m relay in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Stefanie Reid is a Paralympic sprinter who competes for Great Britain in the 100m, 200m and Long Jump. She won a silver medal in the long jump at the London 2012 Paralympics, and is a strong multi medallist contender for Rio 2016.

Peter Loftus is a Special Olympian with 13 gold medals and will tell alongside his parents, the story of how they are setting up a L’Arche residential home in Wales specifically for Special Olympians with a focus on sport as part of the spirituality of the home.

The three will come together to reflect on the unifying nature of sport at the conference, which will be include a presentation from Professor John Swinton, a Professor in Practical Theology from the University of Aberdeen.

He said: “Spirit in Sport will look at the call of competition and competitive sport and the need to win, which may be in conflict with the way we live our lives as spiritual people.

“We will consider how to prepare for sport in a spiritual way as well as a physical way and will also explore how sport can change lives, with our elite athletes sharing their own experiences.”

Cristina Gangemi, co-director of The Kairos Forum and organiser of the conference, added: “The Spirit in Sport is for anyone interested in sport and the story of the human person.

“This is a relatively new area of study especially in theology and will be of interest to everyone from elite athletes to PE teachers to those working within various fields of disability.

“It is an opportunity to take some time to reflect not just upon our bodies but also our spirit and the way in which athletes have to live their lives to be at the top of their sports.”

The Spirit in Sport will take place on Thursday June 12 from 10am to 4.30pm at The Charterhouse, Sutton’s Hospital, Charterhouse Square, London. For full details visit