Two II2 Virtus World records broken at GG2023

II2 World Records in Swimming

The inclusion of the II2 competition class as a full medal event at the Global Games 2023 was a significant milestone for Virtus  sports. In just its second edition, the II2 athletes are already leaving their mark by shattering records and pushing the boundaries of human potential, showcasing their incredible skill and determination on the global stage.

Kobayashi Michiko (JPN)

Kobayashi Michiko from Japan broke the Virtus World record twice in a row today in the female II2 100m breaststroke event. She swam a time of 1:42.69 in the heats this morning to set the first record and later broke her own record in the finals clocking an impressive time of 1:39.86 seconds.

Vincente Pereira from Portugal has etched his name in the annals of swimming history by setting a remarkable Virtus World record in the 50m butterfly II2 event.


The morning saw rowers compete in their respective heats in order to qualify for the afternoon finals, from 2:30pm onwards. There were ten finals across the afternoon and, as expected, the favourites came out on top – for the most part.

For the afternoon began, surprisingly, with hosts France losing out in the II2 Men’s Scull, where Italy’s Andrea Appendino forced his way past both French rowers to take the gold. Although, France fought back in subsequent encounters with the Italians, taking gold in the II1 Men’s Double Sculls and Silver in the ii1 Mixed Double Sculls, ahead of Italy in third.

However, the real stars of that II1 Mixed Double Sculls, and indeed the remainder of the afternoon races, were the formidable Australians MacIntyre Russel and Bronte Marshall. With a lot of talk about their previous successes at past Global Games in the lead up to this week, many expected them to be prominent figures throughout the week, and on the first day they did not disappoint.

They paired together to storm the II1 Mixed Double, 12.2 seconds ahead of the French competition, before each went on to excel in their individual races. Marshall took home silver in the II1 Women’s Single Sculls, and Russel the gold in the II1 Men’s Single, to assert some early dominance in what is an action-packed week ahead of us at La Tour des Juges.

GG2023 declared open at Vichy Opera House

By Callum Burchett for Virtus

“After the last edition of this great sporting event, I left Australia tremendously impressed at the level of competition, and, most important, the performance of the athletes. We are delighted to see all three competition classes, II1, II2 and II3 classes to compete in this edition of Virtus Global Games. At the IPC, we are committed to working with Virtus and International federations to develop greater opportunities for athletes with an intellectual impairment to compete at the highest level in the Paralympic movement.

Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee. Photo Credit: Luc Percival

These were the words of Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee, when the world sat down to witness the opening ceremony of the 2023 Global Games. The 2023 Games looks set to not only meet, but exceed those expectations – and provided a fantastic spectacle to the world. The opening ceremony on Sunday evening certainly demonstrated the potential of these games to provide that.

Held in the breath-taking Vichy Opera House, just off the banks of the Allier River in the heart of the city, Mr Parson’s speech as well as numerous other’s were delivered once over 900 elite athletes from forty-seven countries and their coaching staff had made their ceremonial parade. Winding its way through the streets of Vichy, the colourful and musical procession began outside the beautiful Mairie de Vichy Town Hall, and culminated at the top of the steps to the Opera House.

Among the esteemed guests present at the ceremony was Frederic Aquileira, the Mayor of Vichy. Known for his unwavering support for inclusivity in sports, Mayor Aquileira.

Between the speakers, they highlighted their excitement about the Global Games serving as the Paris 2024 qualifiers for Table Tennis and they hope the Winter Paralympic Games will open their doors to athletes with an intellectual impairment and that the words ‘Paralympic games’ will count for all sports and every sportsperson at any level in every country.

‘Madame le Minsitre Chargée des personnes en situation de handicap’ took the opportunity to share her vision for a more equitable sporting world. In her address to the audience, she emphasised the significance of the Global Games and expressed her hope for its recognition on a global scale.

Marc Truffeut, President of Virtus and LOC of GG2023 was delighted to host the Global Games after the pandemic. Talking about the athletes’ determination, he said,

Marc Truffaut, President of Virtus and LOC of GG2023. Photo Credit: Luc Percival

“You (the athletes) are models for all of us. Your determination and sportsmanship are a source of inspiration for us, and you showed us that nothing is impossible when we believe in ourselves and commit to giving our best. I would like to thank everyone who has made this Global Games possible.”

“The Global Games is a celebration of diversity. They remind us that strength and talent know no limits. Every individual, regardless of their ability, can reach excellence.”

Livestream from the 2023 Global Games can be viewed from GG2023 TV

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Iconic GG2023 eco-medal designs revealed

The GG2023 organizing committee has unveiled the highly anticipated medal designs, surpassing expectations with their captivating beauty. Reflecting the committee’s sustainability commitment through the environmental charter with the French Ministry of Sports and WWF, the GG2023 medal will incorporate both metal and wood components, where the metal design represents the classic and prestigious nature of medals and sits within a ‘wooden frame’ which adds  an element of natural beauty and environmental consciousness.

To bring the wood-metal concept to life, skilled artisans from Ateliers CURTI and meticulously selected high-quality wood from the centre of France, close to the Vichy forests were chosen. The careful shaping and carving of the wood results in a design that showcases the texture, grain, and colour of the material, enhancing the medal’s aesthetic appeal, and ensuring that each medal is a work of art, providing recipients with a distinct and organic feel.

The decision to incorporate wooden elements into the GG2023 medals not only stems from sustainability but also from a desire to connect with history. Wood has played a significant role in the construction of important structures throughout history, such as houses, dams, roofs, and bridges, providing protection and support to people. By including wood in the medals, we symbolize the strength and durability that wood represents. The wooden frame surrounding the metal medal acts as a protective layer, ensuring its longevity and preservation. This combination of materials represents the timeless nature of achievements and their lasting impact on individuals and communities” said Marc Truffaut, Virtus President and FFSA, was particularly excited about this historical achievement.

Beyond their visual appeal, the wooden-metal medals embody eco-friendly and sustainable concepts. They serve as a connection between athletes and environmental initiatives, promoting conscious living. By wearing these medals, athletes will become ambassadors for sustainability, spreading awareness and inspiring others to embrace environmentally friendly practices.

Talking about the journey of the medal, GG2023 Protocol manager, Pascale Tilagone explained the process as a “journey from the forest to the podium.

The GG2023 medal undergoes a detailed process, cutting wood into round shapes and compartments to fit the metal medal. The wooden base is polished and engraved with a map of France with the iconic Eiffel Tower and Vichy on the back of the medal signifying the host nation which is then embedded with an Aluminum strip under the map which is laser-printed with the sport discipline name. Metal medals featuring the GG2023 logo are added into the wooden compartments on the front side of the medal and ribbon lanyards with GG2023 branding complete the medal.” said Pascale.

“This meticulous craftsmanship creates a unique blend of wood and metal, symbolizing both achievement and sustainability. Each medal is unique because the wood is not from the same tree in every medal, which makes it extra special.” She added further.

With the opening ceremony just days away, anticipation builds not only for outstanding athletic performances but also for the unveiling of these remarkable medals. The combination of metal and wood will undoubtedly add a wow factor to the already exceptional event, reinforcing the message that sustainability and environmental consciousness can go hand in hand with tradition and excellence.

Elite Swimmers Set to Shine at GG2023 stage

Japan’s incredible performance at the 2022 Virtus OA Games, where they shattered six Virtus Asia records across individual and team events, showcased their prowess as a powerhouse in Swimming. However, Brazil and Hong Kong are determined to challenge this, with their finest athletes who are ready to showcase their skills and push the limits. With these strong competitors from different nations, the stage is set for a thrilling battle at GG2023 as they strive to outperform each other and leave their mark on the global stage of Paralympic sports.

Here are some of the best athletes to look out for:

(L-R) Gabriel Bandeira, Yamaguchi Naohide, Yui Lam Chan. Photo Credit: OIS, World Para Swimming and HKSAPID

  1. Gabriel Bandeira (Brazil): With an impressive performance at Tokyo 2020 and Madeira 2022, Paralympic Champion Gabriel Bandeira has proven himself as a force to be reckoned with. His collection of medals includes one gold, two silver and one bronze from Tokyo 2020 and three gold, one silver and two bronze from Madeira 2022, and his determination to maintain his streak of outstanding results makes him a top contender.
  2. Yamaguchi Naohide (Japan): Yamaguchi Naohide’s world record-breaking swim at Tokyo 2020 catapulted him into the spotlight. He made waves at Tokyo 2020 by breaking the world record in the SB 100m Breaststroke event (1:03:77sec). At the 2022 Madeira Para-Swimming Championship, he also set a championship record (1:04.46sec) and established a Virtus Asia Record in the Men’s 200m Breaststroke II1 category (2:21:26sec). As a Paralympic Champion and holder of multiple records, he brings exceptional form and unmatched skills to the breaststroke events.
  3. Yui Lam Chan (Hong Kong): At an early age, Yui Lam Chan has already made a name for herself. As the youngest Paralympian from Hong Kong at Tokyo 2020, she secured an impressive tally of medals at the 2019 Virtus Global Games (3 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze medals). Her recent gold medal in the 100m Butterfly at the 2023 Citi Series further cements her status as a rising star.

    (L-R) Debora Carneiro, Beatriz Carneiro and Anku Matsuda. Photo Credit: Debora Carneiro and Deion Menzies

  4. Debora Carneiro (Brazil): Part of the dynamic Carneiro twins, Debora Carneiro has already made her mark on the Paralympic stage. Her bronze medal at Tokyo 2020 and subsequent success at Madeira 2022 demonstrates her prowess in the 100m Breaststroke discipline. Her impressive performance at the Global Games 2019 further marks her as a top contender.
  5. Beatriz Borges Carneiro (Brazil): The other half of the Carneiro twins, Beatriz Borges Carneiro, brings her own set of accomplishments to GG2023. With a bronze medal from Rio 2016 and an impressive tally of medals from the Global Games 2019 including two golds, one silver, and one bronze, Beatriz is determined to contribute to Brazil’s success once again.
  6. Anku Matsuda (Japan): Anku Matsuda, a talented butterfly specialist and Japanese champion, made waves with his international debut at Madeira 2022. His performance in the Men’s 100m Butterfly finals showcased his skills, while his world record-breaking swim in the Men’s II1 200m Butterfly at the 2022 Virtus OA Games secured his status as a gold medal contender.

    (L-R). Aira Kinoshita, Wai Lok Tang and Alexander Hillhouse. Photo Credit: Deion Menzies and World Para Swimming


  7. Aira Kinoshita (Japan): Aira Kinoshita, a formidable force in the female category, shattered records at Virtus Asia and maintained an undefeated streak at the Citi Swimming World Series 2022. Her performance in the 200m Freestyle (with Virtus Asia record) and victories in the 200m Medley and 100m Breaststroke at the OA Games make her a fierce competitor to watch out for.
  8. Wai Lok Tang (Hong Kong): Wai Lok Tang, the gold medallist in the 200m freestyle at Rio 2016, brings a wealth of experience to GG2023. His victories in the 100m freestyle, 50m breaststroke, and 200m freestyle at the 2022 OA Games highlights his versatility and competitiveness as a spectacular athlete.
  9. Alexander Hillhouse (Denmark): Denmark’s Alexander Hillhouse made his mark with a bronze medal at the 2022 Madeira Para-Swimming Championship. Awarded by the ‘Top Junior Athletes’ title  at the Citi Swimming World Series 2022, Hillhouse is poised to showcase his talent and make an impact at GG2023.

GG2023 is set to feature an incredible lineup of Paralympians including Liam Schutler, Pernilla Lindberg (SWE), Wonsang Cho (KOR), Keichi Nakajima (JPN), Mikika Serizawa (JPN), George Marchi (ITA), Janina Falk (Austria), Ayemeric Permentier (BEL), and the local favorite, Nathan Maillet.

Thus, with such impressive athletes coming together to contest for the top spot, GG2023 will certainly be a valuable journey for all. And whether they are defending champions, record holders or rising stars, their performances at GG2023 are definitely going to captivate audiences worldwide and inspire athletes to deliver the best of themselves.

View Swimming schedule

Paralympic Medalists Ready to Conquer the GG2023 Track & Field

By Ihuoma Kanife for Virtus

Hosted by the Fédération Française du Sport Adapté (FFSA), the Virtus Member Organization for France, the sixth edition of the Virtus Global Games- GG2023 will have more than 15 Paralympians setting the tracks on fire.

Here is a list of the top 10 Paralympic medalists to look out for at GG2023:

(From L-R) Barbara Bieganowska- Zajac (POL), Karolina Kucharczyk (POL) and Charles-Antoine Kouakou (FRA). Photo Credit: OIS/ Joe toth.

  1. Barbara Bieganowska- Zajac: Mother of two daughters, the ‘Golden Basia’ is a four-time Paralympic Champion, competing mainly in category T20 sprint and middle-distance events. In Tokyo 2020, Bieganowska won the gold medal in the Women’s 1500 m – T20 final, clocking her season-best time of 4:27.84sec. Barbara also stayed undefeated at the 2022 Virtus European Games, 2020 Virtus Indoor Athletics and multiple preceding events organized by Virtus.
  2. Karolina Kucharczyk: Karolina had a historic win at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, in the Long Jump T20 event where she broke her Paralympic record twice to reclaim the title with a jump of 6.03m after her first gold medal in the London 2012 Summer Paralympics for the Women Long Jump F20 events. Karolina also won the Gold in 2022 Virtus European Games.
  3. Charles-Antoine Kouakou: The home favourite Charles-Antoine Kouakou made his debut at the Paralympic Games and emerged as a winner of the gold medal for the men’s 400 m – T20 events in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in athletics.

    (From L to R) Poleth Mandes (ECU), Lenine Cunha (POR) and Ndiaga Dieng (ITA). Photo Credit: OIS photos

  4. Poleth Isamar Mendes Sanchez: Ecuador’s Poleth Mendes Sanchez is another name which cannot be forgotten. In 2021, Poleth made an impressive win for Ecuador in the Women’s shot put F20 at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, where she created history by winning the first Paralympic medal for Ecuador. She also set New World and Paralympic records with a distance of 14.39m.
  5. Lenine Cunha: Virtus ambassador, Lenine Cunha from Portugal, will compete in his sixth Virtus Global Games. Lenine made his debut appearance at the Paralympics in the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games held in Australia where he emerged a finalist in the Men’s Long Jump F20. In the London 2012 Paralympics, he made a comeback winning a bronze medal at the event finals, and thereafter participated in the Rio 2016 Games event finals. Lennie has an impressive medal tally consisting of more than 200 International medals, including three gold, one silver and two bronze at the 2022 Virtus European Games.
  6. Ndiaga Dieng: Dieng, an Italian of Senegalese descent, made Italy proud at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Paralympics where he emerged a Bronze medalist in the men’s 1500 m T20 event (3:57.24sec). He also represented Italy in the men’s 400m T20 finals, coming in 5th place (0:48.42sec). Ndiaga will be running to defend his titles in the II1 Men’s 800m and 1500m from 2022 Virtus European Games and 2019 Global Games Brisbane respectively.

    (L to R). Maksym Koval (UKR), Jardênia Felix Barbosa da Silva (BRA), Liudmyla Danylina (UKR) and Oleksandr Yarovyi (UKR). Photo Credit: OIS photos and Virtus

  7. Maksym Koval: Another debutant to the Paralympics in 2021, Ukrainian para-athlete Maksym represented Ukraine in the Men’s shot put F20 in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, and emerged the gold medallist setting a new World and Paralympic record with a distance of 17.34m.
  8. Jardênia Felix Barbosa da Silva: Jardênia is a Brazilian athlete who made her debut at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics and won Bronze for her country at the age of seventeen. She also claimed two bronze at GG2019 in 100m and 200m.
  9. Liudmyla Danylina: Ukrainian athlete, Liudmyla, is a multi-time competitor in the T20-classification Paralympics middle-distance running events. She won the silver medal in the women’s 1500 m T20 event (4:32.82sec) at the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan. Earlier in 2016, she represented Ukraine at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio, Brazil where she won the bronze medal (4:28.78sec) in the same event. Liudmyla also won the silver at the 2020 Virtus Indoor Athletics.
  10. Oleksandr Yarovyi: Another Ukrainian athlete to look out for is the twenty-three-year-old Oleksandr made his debut appearance to the Paralympic Games in 2021 when he represented Ukraine in the shot put F20 event at the 2020 Summer Paralympics and won a silver medal with a distance of 17.30m.

In addition, two-time Paralympic silver medallist Daniel Pek (POL) along with Sandro Bases (POR), Sayaka Makita (JPN), Cristiano Pereira (POR), Gloria Agblemagnon (FRA) will also line up at the GG2023. New World or Paralympic records can also be anticipated this year.

With the Virtus Global Games held every four years and always in the year preceding the Paralympic Games, GG2023 will give thousands of defending champions and emerging athletes with intellectual impairments, an opportunity to compete ahead of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

View Athletics schedule

Top Five II1 Women to Compete for Spot at Paris 2024

With so many of the top ten ranked women’s athletes participating, the competition promises to be fierce. Serving as Paris 2024 qualifiers for II1 athletes, the Global Games 2023 will turn as the ultimate battleground for the talented women in this particular category to showcase their skills, determination, and unwavering spirit to win their Golden ticket to the upcoming Paralympic Games.

Here are the top five A-listers who will try to outshine their competitors and claim their rightful place in Paris 2024:

1. Lea Ferney: A Paralympic Sensation

Lea Ferney. Photo Credit: ITTF

Seizing the top spot in the ITTF rankings, French athlete Lea Ferney has cemented herself as an intimidating force in the world of table tennis. Lea made headlines with her stellar performance at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, clinching a silver medal in her debut appearance. Though she faced defeat against Ebru Acer from Turkey in the 2022 Virtus European Summer Games, Lea bounced back to reclaim her spot atop the rankings at Andalucía 2022. Her tenacity and skill make her a strong contender for success at GG2023.

2. Natalia Kosmania: The Ukrainian Dynamo


Natalya Kosmania. Photo Credit: ITTF

Ranked second in the ITTF standings, Natalia Kosmania will represent Ukraine with unwavering determination. As the gold medalist from Rio 2016, she has proven herself on the global stage. With her sights set on securing a place at Paris 2024, Natalia is poised to demonstrate her exceptional talent at GG2023. Expect fireworks as she showcases her prowess against the world’s best.

3. NG Mui Wui: A Rising Star from Hong Kong


NG Mui Wui. Photo Credit: ITTF

NG Mui Wui, the bronze medalist from Rio 2016, has been steadily climbing the ITTF rankings and currently sits in third place. Hailing from Hong Kong, NG Mui Wui’s skills and strategic play have propelled her to the forefront of the sport. Her doubles victory alongside Wong Ting Ting at the 2022 Andalucían Championships further solidifies her potential for success. Watch out for NG Mui Wui as she strives to reach new heights at GG2023.

4. Dorota Nowacka: The Polish Contender


Dorota Nowacka. Photo Credit: ITTF

Dorota Nowacka, the fourth-ranked Polish athlete, aims to make a strong comeback at GG2023. While she narrowly missed out on the finals at Rio 2016, her drive and determination have only grown stronger. Despite her defeat to fellow Polish athlete Lysiak Krystyna at the 2022 Spanish World Para Table Tennis Championship, Dorota remains a formidable competitor. GG2023 presents a perfect opportunity for her to showcase her resilience and compete at the highest level.

5. Ebru Acer: The Turkish Phenomenon


Acer Ebru. Photo Credit: ITTF

Ebru Acer, the rising star from Turkey, made a name for herself by defeating Paralympic medalist Lea Ferney at the 2022 Virtus European Championship. Although her subsequent performances did not match her early success, Ebru currently holds the fifth spot in the ITTF rankings. Her talent and potential are undeniable, and all eyes will be on her to see if she can replicate her remarkable Krakow 2022 performance at GG2023.

As they vie for a spot in Paris 2024, the competition promises to be intense, leaving spectators on the edge of their seats. The world will be watching as these exceptional women strive to secure their place among the elite and leave their mark on the world of II1 table tennis.

View Table Tennis Schedule

A Battle for Paris 2024 ticket at GG2023

The upcoming Global Games 2023 (GG2023) in Vichy is not only a prestigious event for all Virtus table tennis athletes but will also serve as a gateway to the next 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris for II1 athletes. With the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) announcing that the top male and female II1 champions will secure their spots for the upcoming Paralympics, the stakes have never been higher. Sixty-six elite II1 players from twenty countries are ready to unleash their skills and claim victory in Vichy, creating an atmosphere of intense competition and excitement. Let’s delve into the journey of the top five exceptional athletes who are vying for a chance to shine in Paris 2024.

1. Lucas Creange: The Powerhouse from France


Lucas Creange. Photo credit: ITTF

Topping the list is Lucas Creange, the current ITTF World No. 2 in table tennis. With an impressive track record, Lucas has secured numerous accolades, including a bronze medal in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. His prowess extends beyond that, with two bronze medals at the 2019 Global Games and a gold medal in the II1 Men’s singles at the 2022 Virtus Table Tennis European Championship. As GG2023 takes place in his home country, Lucas aims to reign supreme and add another triumph to his remarkable career.

2. Peter Palos: The Hungarian Hero


Peter Palos. Photo Credit: ITTF

Peter Palos, the Hungarian sensation, has solidified his status as a force to be reckoned with in the world of table tennis. As a three-time Paralympic gold medalist and the current ITTF World No. 3, Peter’s tenacity and skill have taken him to incredible heights. With a remarkable victory against Sam Von Einem in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, Peter is determined to make his mark once again at GG2023. The GG2019 champion’s relentless pursuit of excellence is an inspiration to athletes around the globe.

3. Kim Gi Tae: A Triple Threat


Kim Gi Tae. Photo Credit: ITTF

Kim Gi Tae’s meteoric rise in the world of table tennis has been nothing short of extraordinary. Claiming three gold medals in men’s singles, doubles, and mixed doubles at the Andalucía 2022 World Para Table Tennis Championships, he became the most successful player of the event. Currently ranked as the ITTF World No. 4, Kim Gi Tae is set to captivate audiences with his formidable skills and unwavering determination at GG2023. Expect nothing short of greatness from this exceptional athlete.

4. Takashi Takemori: Unleashing the Tremors


Takashi Takemori. Photo Credit: ITTF

Hailing from Japan, Takashi Takemori is another fierce player on the table tennis court. The GG2019 silver medallist known for his deadly smashes is currently ranked as the ITTF World No. 5. His thunderous shots and strategic gameplay make him a formidable opponent for anyone who faces him. As he prepares to unleash his arsenal of skills at GG2023, all eyes will be on Takashi as he aims to climb higher in the rankings and etch his name in table tennis history.

5. Sam Von Einem: The Unyielding Australian


Sam Von Einem. Photo Credit: ITTF

Sam Von Einem, the Australian table tennis star, has etched his name in the annals of Virtus and Paralympic games. With two silver medals from Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, Sam has showcased his unwavering resilience and skill on numerous occasions. Although currently ranked sixth on the ITTF list, Sam’s determination knows no bounds as he seeks to make a resounding comeback at GG2023. Expect an intense battle when Sam takes to the table, as he leaves no stone unturned in his pursuit of victory

With a total of 86 players participating across all three Virtus categories, II1, II2 and II3, the competition will be fierce, and every match will be a testament to the sheer dedication and passion of these athletes.

View Table Tennis Schedule

First live Equestrian tournament to kick off at GG2023

By Arunav Choudhury and Mousumi Mazumdar for Virtus

This year, competition and spirit will come together at Vichy as the first live tournament of Equestrian will take place at the Virtus Global Games 2023. It is one of the newest sports on the Virtus programme and was added in 2016. Virtus has organized six annual editions of Para Equestrian Video competition.

Throughout the decades, Equestrian has been an engaging sport which involves precise manoeuvres and movements demanding a delicate balance between agility and stability. As such, for the upcoming Equestrian tournaments at the Global Games 2023, athletes are preparing themselves with determination. Control and coordination will be put to the test as riders will have to come up with the perfect recipe involving skill, steadiness and communication with their horses to have a shot at victory and earn accolades.

Sonia Villalba. Photo Credit: Virtus

Spanish rider Sonia Villalba, a Paralympian and three time II-1: Grade IV champion at the online para-dressage competition will compete in the tournament. Sonia is a veteran of Para Equestrian and has competed at many World and European championships including the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. Expressing her excitement for the GG2023, Sonia says,

“I am very happy to see the efforts of Virtus to introduce Equestrian as one of their sports. I am hopeful that the celebration of Equestrian at the Global Games will be a huge step towards the total integration of the riders with intellectual impairment in the Paralympic movement in the future”.

Likewise, Alejandro Espejo from Spain and Sui Watts (AUS) have been winning all the II2 category events and will be riding to defend their spot. In addition, youngest among the athletes in the II3 category for Equestrian, Rui Yan Ta (TPE) with his youthful spirit and focus will also be present in the tournament and will be aspiring for glory at the 2023 Global Games. Also fulfilling their dreams are Andrew Driffield (AUS), Christopher Bradley (GBR), Georgina Maton (GBR), Laurie Descouture (FRA), Maria Sanchez (Spain), Tatjana Raible (GBR) in II1 and Anna Beem (USA) in II3.

Uta Rindfleisch, Chairperson of Virtus Equestrian expressed her heartfelt gratitude towards the LOC of GG2023 for not only organizing the first offline para-dressage competition, but also for taking on the demanding task to source suitable horses for the athletes who are not able to bring their own mounts to Vichy.

“After 5 years of video competitions we are absolutely excited to finally meet our riders at a live tournament, where athletes will have the chance to represent their country on the World Stage. In addition, having a veteran of Para Equestrian like Sonia will be inspiring for young athletes to join the Para Equestrian movement”,Uta told Virtus.

The inaugural edition of Equestrian at the Virtus Global Games will feature some of the greatest riders from Spain, Australia, Great Britain, USA, Egypt, Germany, Chinese Taipei as well as France.

An exciting tournament with a vibrant display of quality sport awaits in the month of June and the audience will be thrilled as well as delighted to witness a showcase of fine talents and exhilarating performances. This incredible addition to the list of sports at the Global Games 2023 will certainly create a memorable event for all participants. But more importantly, it will pave the way for future athletes to come together as fellow competitors, deliver their best and experience the wonder of sport.

View Equestrian schedule

Australian team seeking medals GG2023 Rowing

By Joshua Wakefield and Mousumi Mazumdar for Virtus

Athletes from around the world will be displaying their remarkable abilities in various sports in this year’s Virtus Global Games in Vichy, France. Rowing is a fast-growing sport within the Virtus programme, and the Virtus Global Games has provided a stage for rowers with intellectual impairments to shine, inspiring us all with their exceptional skills. This year, both on-water and indoor rowing events are included at GG2023 and thirty five out of forty rowers will be seen competing in both indoor and on-water rowing.

The indoor rowing event at GG2023 will showcase a range of individual and relay competitions for athletes across all three Virtus competition classes: II1, II2, and II3 and will feature four distinct races: 500m, 1000m and 2000m row along with the thrilling team relay covering a total distance of 2000m. On-water rowing will feature an exhilarating line-up of four events, the skiff (individual), double sculls (two-rowers team event), quadruple sculls (four-rower team event) and coxed fours (four rowers and one coxswain event).

Who to look out for?

Mac Russells with flaunting his GG2019 Gold medals Photo Credit: Mac Russell

II1 Australian rower, Macintyre Russell, also known as Mac, is one of the most decorated Virtus rowers so far. With a remarkable performance in the previous Global Games, where he secured seven gold medals, two silver medals, and one bronze medal in indoor and on-water rowing, Mac has established himself as a standout athlete. During the competition, spectators noticed Mac carrying a poster bearing the phrase ‘The Mac Attack,’ which could be seen as a symbolic representation of his remarkable dominance over his rivals in the games he competed in.

I am training almost every day in the lead-up to the VIRTUS Games. I do 5 on water sessions each week, 4 gym sessions plus a couple of bikes & ergs. I’m working so hard that I’m finding it difficult to eat enough of each meal to keep my weight up!’, Mac told Virtus.

Bronte Marshall at GG2019
Photo Credit: Sport Inclusion Australia

Another Australian hoping for gold in this year’s Global Games is female indoor and outdoor rower Bronte Marshall in II1 category. With gold in the 2000m in GG2019, she seeks to further her achievements by securing medals in both the 500m and 1000m rowing events.

The Australian team is eagerly anticipating the results of their intensive training, hoping that their efforts will pay off and surpass the formidable South Korean team, who delivered an impressive performance in the team relays at the previous Global Games, covering a challenging distance of 2000m.

Francesco Di Donato, an Italian athlete, impressed at the 2019 Global Games, winning gold medals in the men’s 1000m and 2000 indoor rowing events. He aims to continue his success at this year’s competition and secure a hat-trick of gold medals. Ecuadorian rower, Brayan Quinquiguano also showed promise at the 2022 OA Games, winning two bronze and one silver, and is expected to compete strongly at GG2023.

The Australian team demonstrated their dominance in both on-water and indoor rowing at the 2022 OA Games and GG2019, securing a total of 32 gold, 28 silver, and 17 bronze medals across the two events. Their exceptional performance showcased their commitment and skill, establishing them as a fierce force in the sport. However, France is determined to make their mark at GG2023 with their team of seventeen rowers, leveraging their familiarity with the water to challenge Australia’s supremacy.

View rowing schedule here