Five World records broken at 2021 Virtus Swimming Championships


After five days of action packed events, the 2021 Virtus Swimming Championships have closed in Montlucon, France. Initially, the event was scheduled to be held in Brazil, however the Covid pandemic disrupted the plan and the French Virtus Member Organisation ‘Fédération Française du Sport Adapté (FFSA)’ stepped in to deliver a fantastic event.

The event was the last in the Virtus’ competition calendar for the year 2021.

Despite the many hurdles faced by organisers and participants, the event was tremendous.  The swimmers achieved some amazing times, and in the II2 eligibility group (for athletes with intellectual disability and significant additional impairment) 5 new World and European Records were set, a testament to the hard work and dedication of the athletes and their coaches in these difficult times.

Camino Martinez de la Riva Spain broke two World records in II2 category.

New World Records:

II2 Women

Camino Martinez de la Riva (Spain) World record in 400m and 200m Freestyle- II2

  1. 200m Individual Medley- Cléo Renou (France)- 3:23.21 sec
  2. 400m Freestyle – Camino Martinez de la Riva (Spain)- 6:13.24 sec
  3. 200m Freestyle – Camino Martinez de la Riva (Spain)- 2:55.01 sec

II2 Men

  1. 200m Individual Medley – Guillermo Gracia Nunez (Spain)- 2:54.55 sec
  2. 100m Butterfly – Axel Belig (France) – 1:13.78 sec

Virtus Swimming director, Dave Harman said, “Everybody at the event should feel immensely proud of this achievement, the LOC, French officials and volunteers, and the athletes and teams who persevered through stringent Covid protocols to attend. For a small event it has made a big impact, giving athletes a much needed competition opportunity with World and Regional Records, and giving the French LOC experience in developing and delivering a major event in readiness for the Global Games in 2023. From me, as the Virtus Swimming Director, I applaud everybody involved, and thank the organizing committee for their hard work and dedication, this is what Virtus sport is all about, success in the face of adversity.  Thank you all, and very well done.”

Full results are available here.

Virtus Vice President Robyn Smith elected to IPC Governing Board

Virtus Vice President Robyn Smith has been elected at the IPC Annual General Assembly, as one of ten IPC Governing Board Member at Large representatives.

The Virtus Governing Board has congratulated Ms. Robyn Smith on this outstanding achievement. Her election continues in the footsteps of Virtus (formerly INAS-FID) founding executive Marie Little OAM who served as the first female Member of the International Paralympic Committee’s Executive Board, from 1993 to 1997.

On behalf of the Virtus Member network across all five regions representing over 80 countries serving more than half a million people, this position on the IPC Governing Board is a positive outcome for the para-sport movement, for athletes with intellectual impairment, and for Virtus.

Virtus President Marc Truffaut said nominating Robyn was something the whole Virtus Board was supportive of and to have a successful outcome is wonderful.

“Congratulations Robyn, your work hard for Virtus and on this campaign, your achievements make us all very proud,” Mr. Truffaut said.

The Governing Board is elected by the IPC membership every four years at the IPC General Assembly and is responsible for setting the policies and for ensuring that the directions set by the membership at the General Assembly are implemented.

Virtus Secretary-General Barry Holman, who was online for the virtual AGM and voting said it was a close race with Ms. Smith only narrowly missing going through in the first round and garnered the six most votes in a field of 23 highly qualified candidates.

“I witnessed the dedication and effort Robyn put into making the most of this nomination and she truly deserves this seat on the IPC Governing Board,” Mr. Holman said.

“Robyn has always been on a path to find ways to make the world inclusive for people with disability, and now she has the strength of the Paralympic Movement to drive equality.”

Robyn Smith ran a campaign with the slogan #EveryoneIncluded – a call to action that more needs to be done for people with disabilities, and those who are underrepresented or come from marginalised regions, to be included in sports.

“In 2017, I was nominated by Virtus and at that time, it was such an honour to be amongst people in the para-sport movement, that although I didn’t make it, it helped solidify the drive towards better relationships with the IPC and the broader para-sport community,” Ms. Smith said.

“Four years on, there was a global pandemic and a world where more people are aware there is a need to change perceptions and challenge the attitudes towards people with disability being included.”

“I am so honoured to be elected as one of the 12 amazing champions of Para-sport, under the guidance of President Andrew Parsons and Vice President Duane Kale, we will be Stronger Together.”

“Through my campaign, it was not just about what I want to bring to the movement, it was about listening to nations and understanding their needs so that I can be a voice for the collective.”

“Thank you to the Paralympic Movement voting members, for giving me this opportunity to represent all of us.”

“Thank you to Paralympics Australia President Jock O’Callaghan and Paul Bird OAM, Oceania Paralympic Committee President and Paralympic Order recipient, for their unwavering support during the campaign.”

“There was also a team of people who helped me during the campaign. Your support, advice and drive, made this moment possible.”

Virtus would like to congratulate all the nominees of these elections and wish the very best to President Andrew Parsons, Vice President Duane Kale, and the ten Members at Large.

Gold Coast to host first Para Sailing World Championships in 2022

The inaugural Para Sailing World Championship will be staged in Gold Coast, Australia, 5 – 12 November 2022, for Hansa 303 class sailors from all around the world.

A World Championship deserves a World Class athlete and sailor at the helm. There’s none better than three-time Olympic Medallist, Matthew Belcher OAM, who is coined the most decorated Australian sailor in Olympic history, and the Australian Sailing 2021 Male Sailor of the Year.

Matthew ‘Mat’ Belcher has accepted the role of Ambassador for this Para Sailing World Championship event, and in his first official role, has the honour of announcing the event at today’s media launch.

The Championship is sanctioned by World Sailing, world governing body for the sport of sailing and supported by Virtus, the International Federation for Athletes with Intellectual Impairments. Both organisations formed a partnership in 2019 and made a commitment to work together to grow a sustainable future for sailors with intellectual impairments.

World Sailing President, Mr. Quanhai Li, said he is pleased to announce that Southport Yacht Club on Queensland’s Gold Coast in Australia will host the Inaugural Para Sailing World Championship for Athletes with Intellectual Impairment in November 2022.

“On behalf of World Sailing, I would like to extend an invitation to sailors with intellectual impairment from around the world to compete in these inaugural Championships,” Mr. Li said.

“The inaugural Championships will be held as part of the Virtus Oceania Asia Games 2022, enhancing the opportunity for our sailors to be part of a major multi-sport event.

“I would like to thank Virtus and the Oceania Asia Games organisers for including sailing as part of the overall Games program.”

Virtus President, Mr Marc Truffaut said that welcoming World Sailing to the Virtus family, signals a message of collaboration to grow and create new sport opportunities for elite athletes.

“We are committed to growing sailing for athletes with intellectual impairments and know that together, we can offer more high-level competition opportunities and make a huge impact around the world,” Mr Truffaut said.

“Building strategic partnerships with International Federation of Sport partners helps to amplify the work we do at Virtus, to raise the visibility and participation of athletes in all sports.”

As the ambassador, Mat Belcher will inspire sailors from all corners of the globe. In addition to his Olympic successes, Mat is a ten times World champion, and Australian Male Sailor of the Year for the sixth time. He has dedicated over 20 years in the pursuit of Olympic success.

“It is a real honour to be the World Sailing Ambassador,” Mr Belcher said.

“I am so lucky to have the opportunity to sail and do something I love every day, and as Ambassador, I want to champion how sailing can be for people of all abilities.”

“I am blessed to be part of the Southport Yacht Club sailing community, and to announce the first official World Championship conducted for Athletes with intellectual impairment, in my home town and local club, is just priceless.”

“When I see sailors on the water, like the ones from Sailability Gold Coast, a voluntary not-for-profit organisation who assist people of all abilities to get into sailing, it makes me proud to give back to the sailing community.”

Commodore Ken Tregeagle said the “Southport Yacht Club has had a long and proud history of sailing on the Gold Coast since 1946.”

“Hosting this internationally recognised world championship is a great honour for Southport Yacht Club,” said SYC Commodore, Ken Tregeagle.

“No doubt the fact that we host international standard sailing and training vents for the intellectually impaired at Hollywell has contributed to  SYC being named as the venue for this World Championship.”

“To also have our Olympic Champion Mat Belcher, as an Ambassador is a proud achievement for Mat, and equally a proud moment, to see one of our local sailors excel so greatly in world sailing.”

“We are also very proud in having partnered with Sailablity since 1997 and together we  provide such a wonderful service to our community. Our Gold Coast waterways are amongst the best water ways in the world and these World Championships will certainly showcase them to the entire world.”

This event is significant for so many reasons and with many firsts. Today also marks the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities, IDPWD2021 and is a fitting backdrop to the theme of Fighting for rights in a post Covid era, and how applicable this is to the global para sport movement.

CEO of the Oceania Asia Games 2022 Organising Committee, Ms Robyn Smith reflects on the critical importance of collaboration to launch and deliver the inaugural Para Sailing World Championship and Virtus Oceania Asia Games 2022.

“When all levels of the Australian Government signalled their support for Sport Inclusion Australia, to host the Virtus OAGames in Brisbane, it allowed planning on what sports could be included,” Ms Smith said

“When approached by World Sailing to conduct the Para Sailing World Championship as part of the OAGames Sports Program, we were delighted as it further drives our mission – inclusion for all.”

“When Champion athletes generously give their time and energy to promote and elevate the inclusion of para-athletes on the world stage, it encourages people to become involved.”

“I would like to acknowledge all the stakeholders on board, World Sailing and World Para Sailing, Virtus, Southport Yacht Club, Sailability, Matthew Belcher, and look forward to making the Championship and the OAGames 2022 a successful blueprint toward Sport for Humanity.”

WKF Para-Karate Championship, Dubai 2021

By Mousumi Mazumdar

Virtus personal Mousumi Mazumdar delivering the para-karate coaches training session on eligibility and classification of II athletes at WKF Para-Karate Championship, Dubai 2021.

The World Para-Karate Championship took place in Dubai from 18th to 22nd November.

It was the first Para-Karate championship endorsed by Virtus after the MOU with World Karate Federation (WKF) was signed in 2020.

The initial days of the championship were packed with classifications of athletes and coaching sessions for para-coaches.

On 20th November, WKF in collaboration with Virtus hosted the first training session for the para-karate coaches on the eligibility and classification of athletes with intellectual impairments. The session was attended by coaches from over 40 nations and was a grand success.

Two categories for athletes with an Intellectual Impairment, K21 (II1) and K22 (II2) for both male and female were offered in the competition, where a total of 30 athletes participated.

Female K21 class

Female K21 winners from the left- Karpati Petra (HUN), Kakosy Olivia (HUN), Odin Charlene (FRA) and Sanchez Rosado Lucia (SPA).

Hungarian karatekas dominated the podium as they grabbed the first two spots. Gold medal winner Olivia Kakosy said “I feel very happy. Me and my coach were practicing five days a week including both physical and technical training, performed lot of repetition for Kata. I am very satisfied with my results” . 

Petra Karpati (HUN) claimed the Silver. The Hungarian team coach was seen celebrating the results behind the stage.

Talking to Virtus, the team coach says “We are very happy to be here and we were feeling very proud to see two Hungarians in the finals, it was like a national celebration. I am very proud of my students. This championship was very important for us amidst this Covid-19 pandemic to keep the spirit of competition alive. The next World Championship is in Budapest, so we will practice a lot to show our talent in front of the Hungarian crowd.”

Charlene Odin (FRA) and Rosado Lucia Sanchez (SPA) settles for the bronze medals.

Female K22 class

Salma Alaaeldin Ebrhim (EGY) claimed the championship title in this category.

I am very happy, I want everyone to be happy with me because I am going to win again hundred times in the future,” Salma told Virtus.

Grabbing the Silver place was Leon Lopez from Spain followed by Nadin Youssef (EGY) and Natalie Olson (CAN) who settled for the Bronze.

(Pictured left)

K22 Winners- (from left) Leon Lopez (ESP), Salma Alaaeldin (EGY), Nadin Youssef (EGY) and Natalie Olson (CAN).

Male K21 Class

K21 winners-( from left) Moustafa Hasan (EGY), Ruiz Carlos Huertas (ESP), Albert Singer (GER) and Antonio Pereira (POR)

Ruiz Carlos Huertas from Spain stayed undefeated and surfaced as the champion of this class. Moustafa

Hassan added Silver to the Egyptian’s medal tally.

Talking to Virtus, Moustafa’s mother said “I am very happy. Moustafa was very close to be the winner but I am still happy that he got silver. We started taking him for the Karate practice since he was five years old. We found very good coaches there and everyone in the coaching centre supported and helped him al lot to be a champion today.”

Albert Singer from Germany and Antonio Pereira from Portugal settled for the Bronze medals and were seen celebrating their success with their respective teams.

 

Male K22 winners (from left)- Mattia Allesine (ITA), Ahmed Elbeltagy (EGY), Azevedo Joao (POR) and Marvin Noeltge (GER).

Male K22 class

Once again the Egyptians stayed on top of the podium as Ahmed Elbeltagy grabbed the Gold. Finishing at the second place was Mattia Allesina from Italy.

It’s a big big pleasure for me to win my first medal. The Egyptian player was very strong, but it’s okay, we got the second place so I am happy“, Mattia tells Virtus.

Azevedo Joao (POR) and Marvin Noeltge (GER) were awarded the Bronze medals in this category.

Full results available on WKF website.

Voluntary Tennis Committee Member (Europe) sought

Virtus is seeking application for the position of Virtus Tennis Committee Member – European Region (voluntary). This is an exciting position suitable for coaches and sports practitioners with a good understanding of elite tennis, particularly for athletes with an impairment.

Virtus Sports Committees lead and manage our sport and competition programme. In particular they are responsible for development and growth across all regions, all aspects of competition management, classification management (where applicable) and for fostering positive and mutually beneficial partnerships with International Federations.

Application process and deadline

Applications should be made using the online form giving details of your background and experience for the post.

Your application will be shared with the relevant Virtus national member organisation and an interview may be held before a final decision is made.

Applications should be sent no later than 5th January 2022.

Information about the role

Reports to: Chair Tennis Committee

Start date: Immediate

End date: Appointments are reviewed on a 4-year cycle, after each Global Games

Working collaboratively, Committee Members will manage the programme taking lead responsibility for agreed areas. For details of committee responsibilities, please see the Tennis Committee overview.

Key Areas of Responsibility

General

  • To work collaboratively within the Tennis Committee whose responsibility is to coordinate and manage the VIRTUS Tennis programme
  • To attend and actively participate in all meetings of the Committee
  • To take responsibility for agreed tasks as designated by the Committee
  • To attend events, acting as Technical Delegate where designated by the Committee
  • To liaise with the local VIRTUS Region to deliver the Sport plan and priorities

Key Skills and Qualifications (Competency)

  • Has an excellent understanding of, and empathy for, intellectual disability sport and the para sport world
  • Has excellent understanding of table tennis and able to apply them fairly and consistently
  • Has good leadership skills and is able to work effectively within a team
  • Has excellent organisational, communication and administrative skills

Major Interactions

  • Chair of VIRTUS Tennis Committee
  • VIRTUS Executive Director and management team
  • VIRTUS Member Organisations
  • Any other stakeholders including potential sponsors and dignitaries

 

General Requirements

  • All VIRTUS officials must make all decisions with absolute impartiality in the best interest of athletes, sport and the organisation
  • All VIRTUS officials must declare any potential conflict of interest and not act in association with any national or vested interest
  • All VIRTUS officials must not abuse their positions or capacity in obtaining advantages or benefits
  • There must be no association with any agencies or persons that are inconsistent with the 
principles of the VIRTUS movement and its ideals
  • All VIRTUS officials shall promote the VIRTUS Code of Ethics by role modelling, peer monitoring and active peer support
  • All relationships and activities with partners, supporters and sponsors must be done in the spirit of promoting VIRTUS
The logo of the World Anti-Doping Agency

2022 list of banned substances and methods published

We would like to draw your attention to the WADA 2022 list of banned substances and methods, which comes into effect on 1st January 2022.
It is particularly important that all Virtus athletes and support staff are aware of the changes, particularly the new guidance around the use of Glucorticoids.
The anti-doping page has been updated to include the new list and a summary of the changes and the WADA website has additional guidance available. Should you have any questions, you are encouraged to contact your NADO in the first instance.

Athletes with intellectual impairment highlighted at Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

By Mousumi Mazumdar (First published on IPC website on 06 Nov 2021) 

World and Paralympic records broken by athletes with intellectual impairments across three sports.

Breanna Clark screams in joy after winning gold

Breanna Clark celebrates after winning Tokyo 2020 gold ⒸGetty Images

A total of 161 athletes competed at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in the intellectual impairment class events across three different sports – Para table tennis class 11, Para swimming S14, SB14, SM14 and Para athletics T20, F20.

These events saw many debutant athletes, going home as proud Paralympians. At Tokyo, 90 male and 71 female athletes participated.

Amidst the global pandemic, it was a challenge for many of the 90 Virtus Member Nations to field a team due to several restrictions.

Marc Truffaut, President of Virtus (World Intellectual Impairment Sport), said: “We are very proud of every athlete with an intellectual impairment who participated at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. I was impressed to see outstanding performance by many new Paralympians across all three sports.

Most Decorated Athletes

Male category:

Reece Dunn from Great Britain in his Paralympic debut, Dunn claimed three gold with respective World records, one silver, and one bronze.
“I’ve loved it, every single second of it. I swam really well so that is just a bonus. It’s been great being here and I have really enjoyed myself,” said Dunn.
Female category:
Valeriia Shabalina from Russia with three golds, one silver and also set a new World record in the process.

Swimming Highlights 

Fifty six per cent of the athletes competed in swimming S14 and were vying for the 33 Paralympic medals up or grabs in six events: men’s and women’s 100m butterfly, 100m backstroke, 100m breaststroke, 200m freestyle, 200m individual medley and the 4×100 mixed freestyle relay. The events were dominated by the debutants in male and female categories.

Paralympic records were broken consecutively in many heats and new World and Paralympic records set in eight out of 11 events for the S14 class.

1. Men’s 100m butterfly: Gabriel Bandeira (Brazil) – New Paralympic record with a time of 54.76.

2. Women’s 100m butterfly: Valeriia Shabalina (Russian Paralympic Committee) – New World and Paralympic record with a time of 1:03.59.

3. Men’s 100m backstroke: Benjamin Hance (Australia) – New World and Paralympic record with a time of 57.73.

4. Men’s 100m breaststroke: Naohide Yamaguchi (Japan) – New World and Paralympic record with a time of 1:03.77 sec.

5. Women’s 100m breaststroke: Michelle Alonso Morales (Spain) – New World and Paralympic record with a time of 1:12.02 sec.

6. Men’s 200m individual medley: Reece Dunn (Great Britain) – New World record with a time of 2:08.02 sec.

7. Men’s 200m freestyle: Reece Dunn (Great Britain) – New World record with a time of 1:52.40sec.

8. 4x100m freestyle relay: Great Britain – Jordan Catchpole, Reece Dunn, Jessica-Jane Applegate, Bethany Firth – New World record with a time of 3:40.63sec.

EN ROUTE TO TITLE: Valeriia Shabalina of RPC competes in the swimming women’s 200m individual medley – SM14 final at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Athletics Highlights

Thirty nine athletes participated across four athletics events – men’s and women’s 400m and 1500m T20, and the men’s and women’s long jump and shot put F20.

Gold medalist Poleth Isamar Mendes Sanchez of Ecuador poses after winning gold in the women’s shot put F20 at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. P.C- OIS

New Records set in Four our of Eight events

1. Women’s 400m T20: Breanna Clark (USA) – New World and Paralympic record with the timing of 55.18sec.

2. Women’s shot put F20: Poleth Isamar Mendes Sanchez (Ecuador) – New World and Paralympic record with a distance of 14.39m. Also created history by winning the first Paralympic medal for Ecuador.

3. Men’s shot put F20: Maksym Koval (Ukraine) – New World and Paralympic record with a distance of 17.34m.

4. Women’s long jump F20: Karolina Kucharczyk (Poland) – New Paralympic record with a distance of 6.03m.

Karolina Kucharczyk poses following the medal winning performance.

Kucharczyk said “I promised my grandad that I will win gold in Tokyo, but he died just after my event in Rio, and I couldn’t even attend his funeral (in 2016). I went to his grave with the silver medal and promised to turn it into gold. Over the five years, I have worked very hard to fulfill my promise. I am missing him but I know he was with me during my event.”

Table Tennis Highlights

Twenty athletes from 12 countries competed in the class 11 event. In men’s category, Peter Palos of Hungary became three-time Paralympic champion by claiming the title at Tokyo 2020 against Sam Von Einem from Australia with a score of 3-2.
“I’m still not sure how I managed to win but here I am as a Paralympic champion yet again,” he said after the match. Von Einem took his second Paralympic silver from the Games.
“I was happy that I was able to win a medal and play on the big stage in the final again…Silver is fantastic. It’s been a fantastic week for me. I might take a little break but then I’ll be looking forward to trying to go that one more in Paris 2024,” said von Einem.

Peter Palos in action. P.C- OIS

ITTF World No. 1 Elena Prokofeva won against young French player, Lea Ferney, 3-1 for gold. The 41-year old who debuted at Tokyo 2020 said, “I waited a lot for this day and I just did what I needed to do.”

Competing in her first Paralympic Games, Ferney was elated with the silver, saying, “I was surprised even to get selected for the Paralympics because you have to come first amongst everyone in France. I came here to win. I am not disappointed with the silver because I am bringing a medal home. I am only 17 years old so it’s only the start. I am not thinking about anything now, I will just celebrate.”

With the next Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024, elite athletes with an intellectual impairment from around the world will have the opportunity to compete on French soil at the Virtus Global Games – Vichy 2023.

This is a multi-sport international event bringing thousands of athletes, defending champions and Paralympians face to face, prior to Paris 2024.

The Virtus Global Games is held every four years in the preceding year to the Paralympics and is the pinnacle event for athletes with intellectual impairment to compete at elite level internationally in more than 10 sports.

Female athletes steal the show at Tokyo 2020

By Mousumi Mazumdar (First published on IPC website on 01 Nov 2021)

 

Tokyo 2020 saw record participation of female athletes at a Paralympic Games, an increase by 11 per cent from Rio 2016. Amongst them were 71 athletes with an intellectual impairment whose inspirational performances left a lasting legacy.

 Barbara Bieganowska

SIGN OF RELIEF: Barbara Bieganowska – Zajac of Poland reacts after winning the gold medal in the Women’s 1500m – T20 final at Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. ⒸLintao Zhang/Getty Images

BIEGANOWSKA GRABS FOURTH PARALYMPIC GOLD 

At 40, Polish runner Barbara Bieganowska became four-time Paralympic Champion, defending her title in the T20 1500m. Known as the ‘Golden Basia’, Bieganowska is also the current World and Paralympic record holder and clocked her season-best time of 4:27.84sec. The mother of two, Bieganowska spoke on how she had to balance her family duties and the sport to achieve her goals.

“I love my daughters very much and they know it. I try to spend as much time with them as I can but, I was away doing my preparations for the Games. They knew that mummy was doing what she loves – so they are very happy.”

“It is my passion and also my profession because it helps me earn money too. It’s been 26 years that I am running and participating in competitions, so my daughters know what I do and support me a lot,” said Bieganowska, who also recalled how sports helped her to overcome her intellectual impairment.

“I had problems with learning and could not remember many things or understand some phrases. Even now I have problem filling some paperwork.”

Elena Prokofeva of RPC in action at the Table Tennis Women’s Singles Class 11 gold medal match at Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Joe Toth/OIS

PROKOFEVA- A PARALYMPIC CHAMPION AT 50

RPC table tennis player Elena Prokofeva made her Paralympic debut at Tokyo 2020 this year. At 50, she became the Table Tennis Class 11 champion, to take home the gold, beating Lea Ferney from France.

“I waited a lot for this day, and I just did what I needed to do,” said Prokofeva, who made her international debut in 2014.She is also a two-time World champion (2017 and 2018) and three-time European Champion.

Gold medallist Karolina Kucharczyk of Poland poses next to the scoreboard showing her new Paralympic Record of 6.03 metres. © Joel Marklund/OIS

KUCHARCZYK DEDICATES GOLD TO GRANDAD

Karolina Kucharczyk had a historic win at the Tokyo 2020 Games, in the Long Jump F20 event where she broke her own Paralympic record twice to reclaim the title with a jump of 6.03m after nine long years.

Kucharczyk dedicated the gold to her grandparent. “Few days after I won the World Championship in Doha in 2015, I lost my grandmother and then a day after winning a silver at Rio 2016 Paralympic Games my grandfather also passed away.

“Fortunately, my grandpa saw my performance, he even recorded it. I had promised then that I would turn silver into gold in Tokyo and I had worked very hard to fulfil my promise. I’m missing my grandfather, but I know he was with me during my event,” said an emotional Kucharczyk.

Lea Ferney of France in action in the Table Tennis Women’s Singles Class 11 gold medal match at Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. © Joe Toth/OIS

FRENCH TEENAGER FERNEY WINS SILVER

Seventeen-year-old French athlete Lea Ferney was among those who made an impressive debut. Competing in her first Games at Tokyo, Ferney claimed a silver in the Table Tennis Class 11. Ferney lost a hard fought final against World No. 1 Elena Prokofeva 3-2 but was extremely delighted with her showing.

“I was surprised even to get selected for the Paralympics because you have to come first amongst everyone in France. I came here to win. I’m not disappointed with the silver as I’m bringing a medal home. I’m only 17, so it’s only the starting,” said a jubilant Ferney.

 

Great Britain’s Bethany Firth and Jessica-Jane Applegate celebrate after winning the Swimming Women’s 100m Backstroke – S14 final at Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Tokyo. © Thomas Lovelock/OIS

IMPROVISED TRAINING LANDS APPLEGATE MULTIPLE MEDALS

British swimmer Jessica-Jane Applegate was among those athletes who found alternatives to stay fit during the pandemic. And her efforts bore fruit as she ended up wining a gold and two bronze at Tokyo 2020.  

“I took up cycling to try and keep my fitness up. I swam in my garden, in a swim spa. I actually got into a swimming pool in April and I didn’t get to train long course until June, so I only trained for four months.

“It was really tough. I had to see a therapist for my mental health just to get me ready for Tokyo because it has been really difficult,” said Applegate, who was also a part of the Great Britain 4×100 mixed freestyle team that set a World record.

Results of the 2021 Para Equestrian Video Competition published!

We are delighted to publish the results of the 5th Para Equestrian Video competition. This years competition attracted more athletes than ever before and enabled the inclusion of a team award.

There was gold medals for Sonia Vilalba (ESP), Alejandro Espejo (ESP) and Anna Beem (USA), whilst both Spain and Germany took the Team awards.

In the youth category GBR were dominant, taking both II1 and II3 categories.

For full details, please visit the results page.

Ribbons and certificates will be despatched to riders in the coming days and Virtus would like to thanks all those athletes and member organisations who supported the competition.

Virtus Webinar – 25.10.21 – Register NOW!

We are pleased to invite you to join the next in our series of webinars:

ATHLETE LEADERSHIP

How sport can contribute to enhancing athletes’ self-confidence, employability and leadership skills

25th October 2021 at 1300 UK (1200GMT)

For this webinar Virtus is delighted to present Dr. Alba Roldan Romero as our guest speaker. Dr. Romero is leading a European project with the aim to improve employment skills in young adults with intellectual disability. She will share good practices derived from her groundbreaking leadership program and provide guidelines for Virtus members how to foster leadership skills through sport in their athletes.

Everyone is welcome to join this webinar by registering in advance here, and please forward this invitation to your networks and contacts.

We look forward to seeing you on 25th October.