With 10 days to go until the start of the 2019 International Federation for Athletes with Intellectual Impairments (World Intellectual Impairment Sport) Global Games, top athletes are arriving in Brisbane, Australia, ready to take to the track and field.
Men and women will compete in a full range of events from long jump and shot put to hurdles and 10,000m between 14-18 October.
Medals will be awarded in three categories for the first time. II1 athletes – also known as T or F20 in the Paralympics – have an intellectual impairment. II2 athletes have a more severe intellectual impairment, such as Down syndrome. II3 athletes have high functioning autism – this category is a trial event for the 2019 Global Games.
A series of Paralympic medallists, 2015 Global Games champions and top-ranked athletes will line-up at the Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre.
Cape Verde’s Gracelino Barbosa is a podium finisher from the Rio 2016 Paralympics in the men’s 400m II1/T20. Four years ago at the last Global Games in Ecuador, Barbosa also won gold in the event.
But he is talented elsewhere on the track as the defending Games and 2017 World Intellectual Impairment Sport Athletics champion in the 100m hurdles, as well as the World Intellectual Impairment Sport Athletics champion in the 100m sprint.
2015 hosts Ecuador have sent a strong team to Brisbane.
This includes the shot put II1/F20 world No.1 Jordi Patricio Congo Villalba and his closest rival and teammate Stalin David Mosquera Congo, the world No.2.
Congo is also the defending discus title-holder.
Roberto Carlos Chala Espinoza is second in the world in the men’s long jump but will face a tough field of opponents.
Compatriot Ronny Mauricio Santos Iza collected bronze in 2015 and has gone on to hold a top five position in the world rankings.
Japan’s Kanta Kokubo also joins both the Ecuadorians as one of the best long jumpers.
Hosts Australia have their own horse in the race in the form of Jack Connors, the bronze medallist from 2017.
However the big draw in this event will be Portugal’s Lenine Cunha.
Cunha has won over 200 international medals, including gold from 2015 and 2017 and bronze from London 2012.
Ecuador’s Anderson Alexander Colorado Mina, the world No.3, and Japan’s Yuki Iwata, the No.9, will line-up in the 1,500m.
In the men’s II2, France’s Nicolas Virapin will continue to make history. In 2018 Virapin became the first man to win medals in the category at the World Intellectual Impairment Sport Athletics Indoor Championships. He will go for the first Global Games titles in Brisbane.
France’s multi-talented Gloria Agblemagnon is set to enter a variety of II1/T20 track and field events in her quest for gold.
Agblemagnon is the world No.2 in shotput and the 2015 champion in the hammer throw. She also holds the 2017 title in that and the discus.
Agblemagnon is likely to be challenged in the shot-put by Ecuador’s Poleth Mendes, the silver medallist from the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships.
A strong Japanese contingent is expected across other II1/T20 events as the country prepares to host the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Makiko Toyoshima returns as the women’s 3,000m II1/T20 champion from 2015.
Aimi Toyama is world ranked no.3 in the women’s 400m. Sayaka Makita has gone from finishing seventh in 2015 to the world No.5 in the 1,500m. Makita also secured bronze in the 3,000m in 2015.
Portugal’s Ana Felipe is a rising star of the women’s long jump and is amongst the world’s top three.
Australia will pin their hopes on Caytlyn Sharp, the 2017 gold medallist in the high jump II1/T20.
The World Intellectual Impairment Sport Global Games are the world’s biggest high performance sports event for athletes with intellectual impairments.
Nearly 1,000 competitors will go for gold in 10 sports in Brisbane from 12-19 October.
Notes to editors: World rankings refer to those held and administered by World Para Athletics.