Geoff Smedley was involved with SUDS from the inception of the union in 2002 ©SUDS

The President of the Sports Union for Athletes with Down Syndrome (SUDS) Geoff Smedley has died from coronavirus.

Smedley passed away on Thursday (March 26) and in a letter published on the SUDS website the union's vice-president Marco Borzacchini described him as "an enormous loss to our sporting community."

"Geoff was involved in the very first event for athletes with Down Syndrome and SUDS from the start in 2002, right up until the most recent event in Portugal in December 2019, as well as the preparations for the 2020 Trisome Games in Turkey," wrote Borzacchini.

"In addition to his devotion to his work, our cherished athletes and to the improvement of disability sport globally, Geoff’s passion, work ethic, energy, commitment and integrity shone through in everything he did. 

"He was a caring and beloved family man, an esteemed colleague, a scholar, mentor and friend. 

"Geoff will be missed by many, but never will he be forgotten by those who were fortunate enough to have known him.

"We are thinking of his family, who graciously shared him with us, in this difficult time.

"It was a privilege to call you a friend. 

"We salute you Geoff - may you rest in peace."

President of SUDS Geoff Smedley died from coronavirus ©SUDS
President of SUDS Geoff Smedley died from coronavirus ©SUDS

During his association with SUDS Smedley campaigned to the International Paralympic Committee to welcome athletes with Down Syndrome into the Paralympic movement.

Smedley, who lived in Coventry in England, enjoyed a long career in education as a headteacher working with students that had intellectual disabilities.

After moving to the English Sports Council he worked with a number of governing bodies to improve disability sport opportunities.

Smedley also previously worked as chief executive for UK Sports Association and served as President of INAS Europe between 2006 and 2014.

He served as an Executive Board member of the European Paralympic Committee and President of the Down Syndrome International Swimming Organisation.