Kazakhstan To Host 2024 Virtus World Half-Marathon and 10k Championship

Virtus, the International Sports Federation for athletes with an intellectual impairment, is thrilled to unveil the 2024 VIRTUS World Half-Marathon and 10k Championship in Kazakhstan. This announcement signifies a historic milestone as the event ventures into Asia for the first time.

Scheduled to take place from 18-22 April 2024, this remarkable event will be organized by the Federation of Sports for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (IDS), a valued Virtus member organization in Kazakhstan.

The event will take place in the beautiful city of Almaty, Kazakhstan, a city with a captivating blend of nature and modernity and a picturesque backdrop of the Tian Shan mountains. With warm Kazakh hospitality and diverse cuisine, Almaty is a city that beautifully intertwines tradition and progress.

Dina Temirgaliyeva, the President of the Kazakhstan Federation of Sports for Individuals with intellectual disabilities and a Board member of Virtus Asia, is thrilled to host the Virtus World Half-Marathon. She stated,

“This is the first opportunity for Asia to host the Virtus World Half Marathon Championships & 10K Road Race and is a great step ahead. This will allow athletes from Asia to participate in a high-level competition.”

“We hope that athletes from other countries will have an opportunity to visit Kazakhstan, which is going to be a great contribution to the development of sport for individuals with intellectual disabilities,” she further added.

The championship, supported by the Mayor of Almaty city and the Ministry of Sports and Tourism, will receive collaboration from corporate foundations “Courage to Be First” and the Athletics Federation.

Marc Truffaut, the President of Virtus, praised the increasing interest from new member nations and highlighted the prospect of athletes excelling in this elite competition. Underlining Kazakhstan’s achievements at the Virtus Global Games, he foresees the emergence of new champions at the upcoming event.

Athletes from Kazakhstan have already demonstrated their talent at the Virtus Global Games, securing three medals in cycling at their inaugural games. We anticipate witnessing the rise of more champions at this event.”

Truffaut highlighted Virtus’ commitment to working closely with IDS to raise awareness of elite sporting opportunities for individuals with intellectual impairment and autism, not just in Kazakhstan but also across neighbouring countries and the region.

Keep an eye out for more updates on this exciting championship.

2024 World & European Indoor Athletics Championships Is Coming To France

Virtus, the International Sports Federation for athletes with intellectual impairment, is excited to announce that France will host the 2024 VIRTUS World and European Indoor Athletics Championships.

Scheduled from February 20 to 25, 2024, this exceptional event will be expertly organised by the Fédération Française du Sport Adapté (FFSA), an esteemed Virtus member organisation in France. FFSA will be hosting the Virtus World Indoors for the second consecutive time.

The event will unfold in the charming city of Reims, known for its rich cultural heritage and historic significance in the north-eastern part of France. Reims, with its stunning cathedral, impressive architecture, and Champagne vineyards, is poised to create a memorable backdrop for this prestigious sporting occasion.

In addition to the indoor athletics championships, FFSA will also host the 2024 Virtus World Tennis Championship in September.

Marc Truffaut, President of FFSA, expressed his enthusiasm, stating,

“The 2021 World Indoors in Nantes presented challenges under COVID-19 restrictions, offering a unique experience. This time, with all restrictions lifted, we are confident that athletes, officials, and visitors will enjoy a splendid time in Reims.”

Leveraging their successful track record, including the unforgettable 2018 Virtus European Games, 2021 World Indoors, and the remarkable 2023 Virtus Global Games, FFSA is well-positioned to elevate the 2024 Virtus World Indoor Athletics Championships to new heights of sporting excellence.

The Local Organizing Committee (LOC) is dedicated to strengthening partnerships with local and national athletics clubs, aiming to craft specialized athletics programs tailored for individuals with intellectual impairments. This initiative is not only geared towards nurturing the growth of athletics but also discovering new talents in the Reims region of France.

Latest Virtus Tennis rankings now available

Following completion of the Virtus tennis programme for 2023, we are pleased to update the World Rankings. Congratulations to all players who participated during the year and we look forward to another exciting season which kicks off during the Australian Open in Melbourne in January.

Empowering Inclusive Volunteerism: A GG2023 Legacy Story

Virtus wishes all the volunteers a very happy International Volunteers Day!

Volunteers are the unsung heroes of all the Virtus events. Their dedication and selflessness play a pivotal role in ensuring the success of these grand spectacles. From assisting with logistics to running the event, volunteers provide invaluable support that allows athletes to shine and spectators to enjoy a seamless experience.

A total of 249 volunteers dedicated their time and energy, with a notable 110 of them having intellectual impairments and/or autism. This remarkable inclusion marks a significant step forward in the journey of employing individuals with intellectual impairments in Virtus events. Some of these volunteers were also retired athletes with intellectual impairments who were supported by the LOC (Local Organizing Committee) – French Federation Of Adapted Sport (FFSA) to thrive in their post-sport life.

This inclusive journey had its genesis during the 2018 Summer Games in France when the FFSA introduced individuals with disabilities into voluntary roles to help run the event. These volunteers, some registered with medical or social institutions, while others participated independently or accompanied by relatives, proved that with a little support, they could contribute meaningfully to the event.

Talking about this wonderful practice, the president of FFSA, Marc Truffaut said,

“FFSA was thrilled by the positive outcomes from the 2018 volunteers programme and sought to further integrate individuals with disabilities into event organizing, making it a part of their 2022-2025 federal project. This project focuses on shared legacies between the 2023 Global Games and the 2024 Paralympic Games, with a specific emphasis on involving people with disabilities in event organization.”

The road to inclusion involved extensive communication and support. Video information meetings were held, followed by ongoing email and telephone correspondence to reassure and aid the volunteers in their experience. Many volunteers came with their institutions, often with a professional accompanying them. These medical professionals were thoroughly briefed, equipping them with essential information about the event and their roles. On-site, the volunteers’ immediate supervisors took charge of their training and preparation.

Photo Credit: T.NGUYEN

The volunteers with intellectual impairments and/or autism took on a range of roles, including welcoming spectators, ticket checking, technical support to run events, acting as signallers during road cycling events, contributing to sustainable development initiatives, assisting with catering, working in the event merchandise shop, and helping with equipment setup and removal, as well as accreditation and welcome bag preparation for athletes.

Efforts are being made by FFSA to include people with intellectual impairments as volunteers at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, which can open new opportunities for people with intellectual impairments.

The legacy of GG2023’s volunteer program extends beyond the event itself. It is a testament to the power of inclusion, the strength of collective effort, and the transformative impact of individuals who selflessly dedicate their time and skills to make these sporting events truly extraordinary.

Their contributions, often behind the scenes, are a testament to the power of collective effort and the importance of community in the world of sports.

Cristiano Pereira Surfaced As The Ultimate Half Marathon Champion at Lisboa 2023

The 2023 Virtus World and European Half-Marathon pushed off from the second of December in Lisbon, Portugal. The competition was organised by ANDDI Portugal alongside the tenth edition of the famous ‘Tranquilidade Meia Maratona dos Descobrimentos’. The event was first organised in 2013.

In a remarkable display of determination and skill, Cristiano P. Pereira achieved an extraordinary feat in the Men’s II1 Half-Marathon. He not only triumphed over mainstream runners but also surpassed para runners, securing the prestigious title of European champion VIRTUS.

Cristiano’s victory, occurring on the International Day of People with Disabilities, serves as a powerful example of the incredible achievements individuals with disabilities can attain when provided with a platform to showcase their talent.

During the Half Marathon of the Discoveries in Lisbon, he not only claimed victory but also shattered the world record for the T20 class by completing the half-marathon in an impressive 1h06m31s time.

Athlete at the starting mark for the marathon. Photo Credit: ANDDI

In the Women’s II1 marathon, Poland’s Anna Bodziony secured the top spot on the podium with a remarkable time of 1:29.41, while Monika Wyrobek claimed a well-deserved second place, clocking in at 1:31.10sec.

Winners of Men’s II3 and Women’s II1 marathon races. Photo Credit ANDDI

In the Men’s II3 marathon, Denmark’s Alexander Nielsen claimed the gold medal with an impressive time of 1:06.39, setting a stellar pace. Italy’s Luca Venturelli secured the second spot with a commendable time of 1:12.07.

Shifting to the Men’s II1 10 km, Jose Martinez Morote from Spain emerged as the champion with a swift time of 33.10, showcasing remarkable speed and endurance. Portugal’s Cristiano Silva Pereira secured a close second with a time of 33.33, closely followed by Denmark’s Mohamed Hers at 33.34.

(L-R) Cristiano Silva Pereira, Jose Martinez Morote and Mohamed Hers. Photo credit: ANDDI

Full results can be accessed from here.

Virtus calls on IPC and IF’s to increase Paralympic inclusion

Marking the occasion of the 2023 International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Virtus has once called upon the Paralympic family to honour its commitment to increasing the representation of athletes with an intellectual impairment in the Paralympic Games.

In 2017, the IPC membership passed a motion which mandated greater inclusion which could be achieved through additional sports, additional medal events or additional eligibility classes, but to date no such change has been agreed.

Marc Truffaut, Virtus President said, “When the Virtus Governing Board met recently, we discussed the work that has been done by Virtus in this area, but ultimately the decision and responsibility lies with IPC and the International Federations of sport”.

“Our priority is the inclusion of Nordic and Alpine Skiing in the 2030 Winter Paralympic Games and we call upon the Federation of International Skiing- FIS to share this commitment in their plans which must be submitted to IPC by the end of January 2024. Secondly, we would also like to see basketball added back to the Summer Games programme for athletes with an intellectual impairment”.

“And Virtus will continue to work closely with several International Federations who have indicated a willingness to target inclusion in future Games helping to develop classification systems and growing the competition base”.

Earlier at the 2023 Virtus Global Games in Vichy, France, President of the International Paralympic Committee, Andrew Parsons, also shared how important athletes with intellectual impairments are for the Paralympic movement.

“At the IPC, we are committed to working with Virtus and international federations to develop greater opportunities for athletes with intellectual impairment to compete at the highest level in the Paralympic movement,” said Andrew Parsons.

“It gives me great satisfaction that this time we are seeing for the very first time II1, II2 and II3 classes here. Congratulations to Virtus, this is such an achievement. And make no mistake, athletes with intellectual impairment,  trisomy 21, Down syndrome, athletes with autism, YOU EXIST and therefore you are important for the International Paralympic Committee.”

Athletes with an intellectual impairment are the largest impairment group by number worldwide but the least represented in the Paralympic Games. Currently, athletes are eligible for a limited medal programme in athletics, swimming and table tennis.

Parapan Debut World Record for Samuel at Santiago 2023

The Santiago 223 Parapan Am Games concluded the events for athletes with intellectual impairments, with Brazil maintaining its dominance and securing the top spot on the medal tally.

Athletics

Anticipation ran high for a thrilling showdown between Brazil’s Oliveira Samuel and Obando Jhon Sebastian (COL), the fastest men emerging from Thursday’s heats. The audience was not disappointed as Oliveira and Obando engaged in a fierce battle throughout the race.

Samuel Oliveira at Santiago 2023. Photo Credit: NPC Brasil

Clocking in at 46 seconds, Samuel who is competing in his first Parapan games, clinched the gold, outpacing Obando by 0.31 seconds. Notably, Oliveira shattered the World Record, setting a new mark at 46.48 seconds, surpassing Daniel Martin’s 2019 record.

Expressing his joy, Samuel remarked,

“I never imagined I could beat Daniel’s (Tavares) record. I always train with him and this is a dream that is being realized. It’s a lot of happiness, I can’t even describe what I’m feeling,”

Rodriguez Luis Felipe (VEN) settled for the third spot.

Swimming

Ana Soares at Santiago 2023. NPC Brasil

Ana Soares (BRA) exceeded expectations at the Santiago 2023 Parapan Games. Adding another gold to her collection in the S14 100m Butterfly finals, Ana achieved a remarkable hat-trick of gold medals. Her victory in the finals was comfortable, outpacing competitors Salina Citli (MEX) and Morrier Justine (CAN).

Virtus congratulates all the winners and hopes to see them in the 2026 Virtus Americas Games in Peru. 

Colombian Champions Shines in Para-Athletics While Brazilians Maintain Pool Dominance

In an absolute triumph, Colombian athletes dominated the para-athletics stage. The formidable duo of Murillo Maria Alejandra and Obando Jhon Sebastian secured two additional gold medals for their nation, elevating Colombia’s medal tally at the Santiago 2023 Parapan Am Games.

(L-R) Vera Leonela, Murillo Maria and Vivenes Diana. Photo Credit: NPC Venezuela, NPC Colombia and NPC Dominican Republic

The T20 Women’s 400m featured fierce competition between Murillo Maria Alejandra, Vera Leonela Coromoto (VEN), Da Silva Antonia Keyla (BRA), and Vivenes Diana Carolina (DOM) for a place on the podium.

Murillo (56.25 sec) claimed the championship title, defeating Vera (57.36 sec) and establishing a new Parapan Am Games Record. Keyla (58.68 sec) narrowly missed bronze, edged out by Vivenes (58.51 sec).

(L-R) Obando Jhon Sebastian, Chala Roberto Carlos and Vucsics Noah Elijah. Photo Credit: NPC Colombia, NPC Ecuador and NPC Canada

The excitement echoed in the men’s long jump, where Vucsics Noah Elijah (CAN) initially seemed poised for gold with a jump of 6.74m. However, Obando Jhon Sebastian (COL), starting on a seemingly weak 6m jump, staged a phenomenal comeback in the second jump, soaring to 7.22m, shattering the Games record and securing a well-deserved gold.

The only other jumper who was able to cross the 7m mark was Ecuadorian Chala Roberto Carlos, recording his best with 7.08m and claiming the silver. Vucsics Noah Elijah (CAN) settled for the bronze with 6.96m.

“I didn’t quite jump to the quality that I wanted to, today. I knew this was going to be a challenging one, given the time of year,” Vucsics told the Canadian Paralympic Committee.

“But I’m really happy. It was a great learning experience for me. Going forward to the Paralympic Games, this is definitely the experience I needed,” he further added.

(L-R) Yepez Frank Peter, Congo Jordi Patricio and Valdes Ronny Rafael. Photo Credit: NPC Ecuador

In Men’s F20 Shot Put, Ecuadorian throwers showcased dominance in Men’s F20 Shot Put, with Congo Jordi Patricio leading from the first throw (14.77m) and clinching gold with a winning throw of 15.52m in the third attempt. He was joined by Yepez Frank Peter (14.20m) and Venezuela’s Valdes Ronny Rafael (13.43m) on the podium for second and third place.

Swimming

 

Ana Soares and Carneiro sisters congratulating each other on their victory. Photo Credit: NPC Brazil

Brazilian women continued their medal sweep in the 200m Individual Medley. Ana Soares, Beatriz and Debora Borges battled each other for the spots and had a neck-to-neck finish where Ana (2:37.35 sec) won the gold. Beatriz tried her best to claim another silver and repeat the podium finish from the first day, but Debora defeated her sister by 0.07sec.

(L-R). Macdonald Tyson, Gabriel Bandeira and Maidana Lautaro. Photo Credit: Santiago 2023

While others are trying to find a spot on the podium, Gabriel Bandeira has a completely different game going on and seems to be chasing the Games record. In S14 Men’s 200m Individual Medley, Bandeira swims out with another Parapan Am record yesterday with 2:10.59 sec, winning his fourth gold from the games.

Macdonald Tyson (CAN) won his first silver from the event while Maidana Lautaro (ARG) settled for the bronze.

“It feels great to get an upgrade from the bronze.. haha…nah, it was a great race. I am pretty sure that this was the second fast I have ever been in my life in that event so I could not be happier with how this event turned out and the entire games,” Tyson told the Canadian Paralympic Committee. 

As the games

Poleth Mandez and Guarin Samuel Shines At Para Athletics: Santiago 2023

The Centro Atlético Mario Recordón stadium came alive as Para athletics events took center stage at the Santiago 2023 Parapan American Games.

Poleth Mandez and Padilla Grecely in action. Photo Credit: NPC Ecuador

In the F20 Women’s Shot-put, Virtus and Paralympic Champion, Poleth Mandez, threw her way to gold, displaying sheer dominance. Not only did she secure the top spot with throws of 13.81m, 13.84m, and 13.91m, but she also shattered her own Parapan Am record not once, but thrice. A phenomenal feat that left spectators in awe.

Padilla Grecely Eliany (ECU) and Vivenes Diana Carolina (DOM) claimed the silver and bronze. Vivenes won the second medal for Dominic Republic from the games, making her win a historical one.

(L-R) Guarin Samuel, Barber Michael Patrick and Rivera Carmelo. Photo Credit: NPC Colombia, NPC Canada and NPC Puerto Rico

The T20 Men’s 1500m was no less thrilling, with Guarin Samuel (COL), Michael Patrick Barber (CAN), Carmelo Rivera (PUR), and Luis Arturo Paiva (VEN) battling it out. In a nail-biting finish, Guarin Samuel stormed across the finish line in 4:10.71 sec, securing the gold.

Michael Patrick Barber, who clinched the silver, shared his excitement,

“I really wanted to come out here and improve what happened four years ago, so I can’t complain. This silver is a testament to hard work and determination.”

Barber who finished sixth in Lima 2019, was thrilled to win the silver.

I was really happy with it, I really wanted to come out here and improve what happened four years ago, so I can’t complain,” Barber told Canadian Paralympic Committee.

Carmelo Rivera made history by winning Puerto Rico’s first medal at the games. Rivera reflected on his journey, saying,

“In the race of life, trust that God is guiding you every step of the way. Challenges are opportunities to demonstrate your strength, knowing that he is on your side.”

More actions are coming up from both para-athletics and para-swimming venues today from Santiago 2023.

Full results can be accessed from Santiago 2023 website.

Beatrice Joins Gabriel in Record-Breaking Triumph at Santiago 2023

Historic moments continue to unfold at the Santiago 2023 aquatic venue for the third consecutive day.

In the Women’s category, the Carneiro sisters, Debora and Beatrice, engage in a dramatic and emotional showdown in the 100m Breaststroke.

Beatrice (1:14.98 sec) avenges the 2019 Lima Parapan Games by defeating Debora (1:15.02 sec) and sets a new record, surpassing her identical twin’s achievement.

Beatrice and Debora Carneiro with their coach (L) and Salinas Citli (R). Photo Credit: Debora Carneiro and Federación Mexicana de Deportistas Especiales

“I hit the 1:14 mark for the first time in my life and became the champion so I am very very happy. We both (Debora and Beatrice) won medals and shared the podium together as we anticipated before the race during lunchtime,” Beatrice shared in an interview with the Brazilian Paralympic Committee.

I finished just after her with a very little difference. We both are very happy. We were anxious before the race but it all worked out well,” Debora added.

A fierce battle for the third spot ensues between Salinas Citli (MEX) and Justine Morrier (CAN). Justine narrowly misses the bronze by 0.02 microseconds, conceding the third position to Citli.

(L-R) Elian Araya, Gabriel Bandeira and Oswald Yzarra. Photo Credit: NLTC Natación Competitiva , Saulo Cruz/CPB and fondeporte ind.

Gabriel Bandeira secured a remarkable double hat-trick, claiming Gold medals and breaking records at Santiago 2023. In the 100m Breaststroke, Bandeira set his third Parapan Am Games record with an impressive time of 1:07.42 sec, securing another well-deserved title.

Elian Araya (ARG) closely follows Bandeira, earning the second spot on the podium with a time of 1:12.26 sec. Oswald Yzarra from Venezuela clinches the bronze, edging out Trevor Lukacsko (USA) by a mere 0.59 microseconds.

The spotlight now shifts to Para-athletics events, with T20 Men’s 1500m and F20 Women’s Shot-put categories. The excitement at Santiago 2023 continues to build.

Full results can be accessed from Santiago 2023 website.