Research on investigating the correlates of physical activity in people with intellectual disabilities

Understanding barriers and enablers towards physical activity is an essential first step to developing interventions and increasing activity levels of people with intellectual disabilities. Virtus Academy manager Dr. Debbie Van Biesen along with her team of researchers recently published a paper where they investigated the correlates of physical activity in people with intellectual disability.

“I and my colleagues performed a review of all existing literature and identified that the three most consistent correlates of physical activity were age, the presence of more severe ID and the presence of physical mobility problems,” said Dr Debbie.

A total of 83 PA correlates were identified, retrieved from 39 studies with a total involvement of 26,456 participants with ID.  A correlation was considered consistent if it was reported in four or more studies.

Despite the abundance of evidence of the PA benefits for people with ID, we only found consistent evidence for three correlates reliably being related to PA in adults with ID. More research, particularly among young and older people is urgently needed.” Dr. Debbie added. 

As more severe intellectual disability and the presence of physical health problems were found to be important barriers to being active in adults with intellectual disability, this study is supporting the II-2 class (athletes with an intellectual disability and significant additional impairment) development within Virtus Sports Competitions.

The 50 first downloads are free, so being quick is recommended. The article can be downloaded from here.

Turkey to host combined 2023 Virtus World and European Indoor Athletics Championship

Virtus, the international federation for sports for intellectual impairment is delighted to announce that Turkey will host a combined World and European Indoor Athletics Championship in 2023.

The World Championships should have been in early 2022, but were delayed due to the ongoing covid restrictions in place during last winter. They will now take place alongside the European Championships given extra incentive to the athletes.

The event will be hosted by Türkiye Özel Sporcular Spor Federasyonu – TÖSSFED  also known as the Turkish Special Athletes Sports Federation – TOSSFED. The event will take place from 8th to 13th March in Ataköy Arena in Istanbul, Turkey.

Virtus president Marc Truffaut said, “We are delighted that Turkey will be hosting this event which will help us raise awareness in the country about elite sports for athletes with intellectual impairment.”

Türkiye Özel Sporcular Spor Federasyonu – TÖSSFED  was formed in 2000 and has supported more than 100 athletes to participate at international events and achieve their sporting excellence so far.

The expression of Interest document will be shared soon with all the members followed by the application pack.

The girl with the photographic memory – Adriana Petrakis

It is well known that intellectual impairment affects people differently. For some people, it means they might struggle to remember things, but for others it can be a very different experience.

Tennis player Adrianna Petrakis from Australia is one such person who is blessed with an amazing memory which, with her autism, helps her remember even the smallest details.

She remembers peoples’ names, people’s birthdays with the exact year, and registration numbers of cars, she is very good at navigation too,” said Adrianna’s mother.

While Adriana’s memory retention is a gift, it can put a lot of pressure on the athlete.

“There is information everywhere around us. And because Adriana can remember things very easily, her brain gets overwhelmed from time to time with all the information she acquires from her surroundings. We started hiding magazines and newspapers from her and also limited her television time so that she doesn’t get exposed to too much information” says her mother.

Adriana was diagnosed with autism when she was twenty-two months old. This is a condition which means that people might see the world around us differently, might find it harder to communicate and find loud noise and light overwhelming. Her parents practised having eye contact with her as she was not looking at them while talking. She did a lot of occupational therapy and speech therapies. Adrianna’s younger sister played tennis, which motivated her to give it a try the sport and soon fell in love with the sport. Later, she started playing tennis as an alternative to her occupational therapy.

There was not much help twenty years ago for children with Autism. We talked to many different people looking for help, took Adrianna for early interventions, etc. She didn’t start talking until she was five and a half or six years; her first word was ‘bubble’” said Adrianna’s mother.

Adriana had her routine since she was a child, and it took us a while to adjust to her schedule but afterwards it was very easy for us to take care of Adrianna than my other two children. She was always very positive, she keeps the family grounded.”

Talking about her positivity, Adriana’s mother told Virtus how she never gets disappointed even if she loses a match and feels proud of herself for playing well and never cries.

Adriana is also a tennis/pickleball coach with South Australia’s first disability sports organization registered with the NDIS. She trains young children with autism and learning disabilities. In 2020, Adriana won the ‘Most Outstanding Athlete with a Disability Award.

Adriana is supported by Sport Inclusion Australia.

Finance Committee member needed (voluntary)

Virtus has an opportunity for an experienced individual to join its Finance Committee.

Reporting to the Governing Board, the committee oversees the management of Virtus funds, preparing management and annual accounts in line with legal obligations, contributes to the budgeting and forecasting process, and ensures due diligence in all aspects of financial management.

The successful candidate will be an experienced accountant, familiar UK charity law and good practice.

For more information please contact Nick Parr – Executive Director – at The closing date is 16th October 2022.

Apply online

World Intellectual Impairment Sport searches for Championships hosts in seven sports

Sport Director Rowing (voluntary) sought

Virtus has an opportunity for an enthusiastic and experienced individual to join its worldwide volunteer workforce to lead and grow rowing for athletes with an intellectual impairment.

Sport Directors lead small teams to oversee competition, grow opportunities and manage Virtus’ sport programme working closely with the staff team and other sub-committees.

The successful candidate will be an experienced rowing practitioner with a good understanding of the sport, able to build strong partnerships with Virtus member organisations and the International Federation, and demonstrate an enthusiasm and dedication to sport for people with an intellectual impairment.

For more information download the full application pack – closing date is 16th October 2022.

Apply online

Virtus pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

Virtus would like to pay tribute on the occasion of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. As Head of State for several Virtus member organisations around the world and as an inspiration to so many people in countries around the world, the news of her death is a profoundly sad moment for us all.

Queen Elizabeth was the UK’s longest-serving monarch reigning for 70 years, marked by the Platinum Jubilee celebrations earlier this year, a lifetime of dedication and service.

We offer our deepest condolences to members of her family and send our best wishes to King Charles III as he ascends to the throne.

Portuguese players dominated the 2022 Virtus World Half Marathon

The 2022 Virtus World Half Marathon concluded today in the beautiful city of Viseu in Portugal. The event was organised by Virtus member ANDDI- PORTUGAL. The tournament took place as a part of the famous Mega Maratona de Viseu. Fifteen athletes with intellectual impairments took part in the event and ran alongside 700 other athletes.

The host nation kept the spotlight on them and won both male and teams championship title.

Men’s II1

Cristiano Pereira from Portugal was the World Champion in Men’s II1 category.

Winners of II1 – Asia Santos (left), Christiano Pereira (centre) and Mohamed Harsi (right)

“I am very proud because I could repeat my win and defended my World Championship title successfully. I am now a two times Virtus World Champion in Half-Marathon. My happiness also doubled because I won in my home country, in my region. 

The Portuguese athlete also described how hard he was training for this tournament, practising twice daily and also over the weekend.

Asia Santos from Spain grabbed the Silver in the same event and Mohamed Harsh from Denmark made it to the final spot on the podium.

Women’s II1

Winners from Women’s II1 category- Anna Bodziony and Monica Wyrobek from Poland.

In the Women’s II1 category, Anna Bodziony won the Championship title and was followed by Monica Wyrobek in second place. Both were representing Poland.

Men’s II3

Alexander Neilson from Denmark

In II3, although Alexander Neilson from Denmark was the only participant in his category, he had a marvellous race and finished overall fourth, including both athletes with and without impairments. He was awarded the Gold medal in his category.

Team event

Portuguese team posing with their trophy

In Teams event, the Portuguese men took the trophy this year. The team consisted of Christiano Pereira, Paulo Benevente, João Monteiro and Luis Pimentel.

For full results, visit Mega Maratona website.

Ebru Acer snatched away Gold from Paralympian Lea Ferney

The finals of the Women’s II1 Table Tennis match couldn’t have been more thrilling.

At the Virtus European Summer Games, in Cracow Poland, 20-year-old Ebru Acer from Turkey defeated the ITTF World no.1 Lea Ferney with 3-2 result. What a fantastic debut performance by the Turkish player.

Ebru was playing an attacking game from the first set and took a lead by 2-1 in the first two sets, putting pressure on Lea. However, the French made a terrific comeback in the fourth set and pushed the game into the final deciding match.

The Tokyo Paralympic medalist took a lead in the fifth match with 5-1, and the cheering audience from the French team added to the pressure on Ebru. But, Ebru brought back her ace game and took away the Gold from the world champion.

“I am extremely happy today and proud to win this medal for my country. I defeated my toughest opponents today “

Ebru dedicated her medal to the president of Virtus turkey for all his support.

Handball players standing shoulder to shoulder standing on a handball court

Portugal win their fourth Virtus European Championship title in Handball

The Portuguese won the men’s II1 Handball final match today against Poland by 26-23. The Portuguese stayed undefeated for the fourth time in the past nine years.

At the Virtus European Summer Games 2022 in Cracow Poland, both teams kept their defence high in the first half, giving very few opportunities for the opponent to score. By the end of the first half, the Portuguese team was leading 11-10.

But in the second half, the Portuguese stepped up the attacking whilst keeping a strong defence.

“We played against a strong team today but I am very happy that the team worked together and we won the title” said the team coach, Antonio Pereira.

The host team repeatedly tried to make a comeback and pulled the score to 20-25 in the 55th minute of the match. However, they could not stand against the aggressive Portuguese team and lost the match by 26-23.

Best Goalkeeper award- Miguel Meireles (Por)

Top goal scorer award- Kamil Bak (Pol)

Best player- Fabio Moleiro (Por)


Portuguese team takes the trophy home in Basketball

Portugal took the championship title for the II1 men’s basketball match at the 2022 Virtus European Summer Games.

Both the finalists, Portugal and France staged a heart-stopping match for the crowd at the Hala 100-Lecia KS Cracovia stadium today.

France took the lead in the first quarter by 23-18, but the Portuguese reversed the game in the second leading 28-24. But scoring 29 points more in the third quarter, the Portuguese created a massive lead of 57-28 which was then increased to 74-39 in the fourth quarter.

“Our strength was the teamwork and our coach’s strategies for the game. ” the team captain told Virtus.

Despite tasting defeat, the French team were seen demonstrating something extraordinary on the court. The team congratulated and cheered for the winning team whilst they made their way to the podium for the champions.

The French team had many first time players who had a great learning experience in this game according to the team coach.

“It was a very difficult match for our team as the team had new players. I think it was a fantastic experience for the team before the Global Games next year” said the French coach.

Bronze for Poland

The host country played against Italy for third place today and won with a huge lead of 67-31.

The Italian team was under a lot of pressure from the first quarter and could not recover until the end. With the match points of 22-8, 39-16,46-28 and 67-31, the Polish team thrashed the Italian team.

The star player from the Polish team was Patryk Nowakowski, who scored 32 points for the team, more than the total baskets of the Italian team.

“This win is very important for the team. We are a little disappointed that we didn’t make it to the finals but we are happy with what we have got,” said Kamil Nowakowski

Best Five Players

  1. Fabio Soares from Portugal
  2. Christiano Correia from Portugal
  3. Maduka Ndelo Junior from France
  4. Patryk Nowakowski from Poland
  5. Beiman Julio Pagliasacchi from Italy

Fair play award

The fair play award was presented to Matteo Galli from Italy.