Virtus joins 100 Days To Go Celebration for Paris 2024 Paralympic Games

More than 100 athletes with intellectual impairment are gearing up to compete at the 2024 Summer Paralympic Games, Paris 2024 from 27 August to 8 September across three sports: Athletics (T20 and F20), Swimming (S14) and Table Tennis (Class 11). Virtus is joining the #100DaysToGo countdown for Paris 2024 with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

IPC launch a promotional film for Paris 2024 that challenges the perception versus reality of the Paralympics 

  • Launched on 100 days to go to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, the advert celebrates the dedication and competitiveness of Paralympic athletes 
  • IPC makes advert available to all its media rights holders and member organisations for use as part of their pre-Games promotion 

To mark 100 days to go until the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has launched a promotional film that addresses the romantic stereotypes of what some people think the Paralympics represent versus the brutal reality of high-performance sport.   

Paul McCartney’s 1984 seminal song We All Stand Together is the soundtrack for the film titled ‘The Paralympic Dream’ which, like the original music video, features stunning animated scenes. 

The advert was developed by the IPC’s advertising agency adam&eveddb. The creative is initially set in a dream-like animated city of Paris where Para athletes run, jump, fence, and paddle, hand-in-hand alongside loveable singing plants and animals.  

However, the animated love-in and song is abruptly interrupted with the harsh realism of Paralympic sport as British Paralympic taekwondo athlete Amy Truesdale is kicked in the chest and crashes to the mat.  

As Amy climbs back to her feet and lands a blow on her opponent, the advert cuts to a stunning montage of outstanding sporting action from previous Paralympic Games. 

The film is being made available to the IPC’s media rights holders and members organisations to support their promotion of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. 

Craig Spence, the IPC’s Chief Brand and Communications Officer, said:

“With our Paris 2024 Paralympic promotional film we wanted to challenge the perceptions and stereotypes some people have of the Paralympic Games in the most fun and creative way possible.  

“For some, the Paralympics is an idyllic event where the athletes are carefree and just happy to be there. The truth is that Paralympic sport is highly competitive and, at times, pretty brutal. To compete at the Paralympics, you have to be a world-class high-performance athlete and we show this in the film through fast-paced sporting action. 

“We created this film because we are aiming for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games to attract record TV audiences and massive crowds of spectators. This film will be used by Media Rights Holders and IPC member organisations to engage new audiences in what will be spectacular and historical Paralympic Games this summer.” 

adam&eveDDB chose the Paul McCartney track for the advert because it has a loveable childlike quality that perfectly matches the idealistic world they were trying to create and then jolts them out of it in the most memorable way possible. 

Virtus sanctioned National Open Athletics in Yaoundé, Cameroon

From April 23 to 27, 2024, Yaoundé played host to an event aimed at fostering the development of sports for athletes with intellectual impairment across Africa. This competition marked a significant step forward as Africa strives for the first participation of athletes with intellectual impairment at the Paralympic Games.

Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon were the two countries that participated in this groundbreaking event. Kicking off on April 23, athletes from Equatorial Guinea underwent psychometric tests, setting the stage for two days of thrilling competitions at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Omnisports Stadium in Yaoundé.

The heart of the event revolved around sprint races and short middle-distance races, including the 100m, 200m, and 400m for both men and women, as well as the 800m for women and 1500m for young athletes. Additionally, there were competitions in shot put and long jump for both genders.

In a fantastic atmosphere, athletes showcased their talents, displaying remarkable improvements in their performances. There was a palpable sense of determination in every series, the competition was a testament to the athletes’ dedication and resilience.

“This event’s impact reverberates far beyond Yaoundé. With the dream of seeing sports for the athletes with an intellectual impairment flourish in Africa, we extend our hand to African nations, Virtus leaders, and the International Paralympic Committee. Together, we can make this dream a reality,” said Jean-Marie Aleokol, President of Virtus Cameroon.

Adding to the spectacle, the National Institute of Youth and Sports in Yaoundé brought a special audience to enliven the ceremonies, while captivating choreographies adorned the opening ceremony.

As medals were distributed and champions celebrated, the event underscored the growing importance of sports for athlete with an intellectual disability in Africa. It is a beacon of hope for the future, signalling the possibility of greater participation in the Virtus Global Games and the Paralympic Games.

First Ever Virtus Judo Training Camp Concludes in Japan

For the past two weeks, Japan has been the epicentre of a groundbreaking training camp, bringing together judoka from Japan, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and Australia. Hosted at Nihon Bunka University by the Virtus Judo Committee members, Rudi Verhagen (NED) and Tomoo Hamana (JPN), this camp aimed to foster camaraderie, share knowledge, and enhance skills among judoka of all backgrounds, including all three Virtus eligibility classes, II1-II2-II3 and mainstream categories.

The camp kicked off with a bang as Norway’s Stale Wikadahl and Australia’s Lewis Willing led the first of four sessions, focusing on technical groundwork and standing techniques. Participants had the opportunity to learn from world-class instructors, exchange insights, and forge new friendships.

As the camp progressed, sessions were led by renowned coaches Rudi Verhagen from the Netherlands and Tomoo Hamana from Japan. Each session delivered valuable lessons and techniques that enhanced the participants’ judo skills and understanding.

The end-of-camp sessions were led by Tomoo Hamana in the morning, followed by Great Britain’s Kerry Tansey and Laurie Rush delivering the final session. With a diverse range of coaches and perspectives, participants are poised to gain a comprehensive understanding of judo principles and strategies.

The highlight of the camp’s finale was a friendly groundwork (newaza) tournament, where judoka from all countries competed for pride and recognition. Regardless of the outcome, every participant received a medal and certificate, symbolizing their dedication and participation in this remarkable event.

‘It’s been a great experience for our judoka, current and developing II judoka to catch up, make new friends and embrace the culture looking forward to and planning their next adventure. Thank you to Mr Hamana & Rudi Verhagen for planning and hosting this great opportunity for our athletes to experience a performance training environment of this capacity.” said Kerry Tansey, Virtus Judo director.
“This is the first training camp that has been organised in any Asian country. The Virtus Judo committee is considering more such types of camps in the future across the world. There is a potential development of working relationships with the European Judo Union creating and showcasing judo for athletes with intellectual impairment at its best”

As the camp draws to a close, participants look forward to the final leg of their journey—a visit to the hallowed grounds of Judo, The Kodokan. With memories made, friendships forged, and skills honed, judoka departs Japan with a renewed sense of purpose and determination, ready to conquer new challenges on the tatami and beyond.

Resounding Success In The Spanish Paddle Championship In Massanassa

The Virtus Spain, Federation Spanish Sports Disability Intellectual-FEDDI organised Spanish Paddle Championship in collaboration with the Paddle Federation of the Valencian Community last month. This was the second of the championship that concluded with overwhelming success, thus consolidating itself as one of the most outstanding sporting events of the year.

The competition, which took place from April 12 to 14, brought together more than 161 athletes from 22 sports clubs and 11 different autonomous communities. Figures show that participation continues to grow year after year, reflecting the commitment and passion of athletes for paddle tennis.

For three intense days, from April 12 to 14, participants enjoyed the best game and an incredible atmosphere of coexistence, accompanied by sun and good weather. Furthermore, it is worth highlighting the great family atmosphere that was experienced, with a notable presence of family and spectators. Proof of this was the joint meal held on Saturday at the Sportcity paddle club.

Athletes engaging in Paddle sport match. Photo Credit: FEDDI

In the men’s competition, the unstoppable duo made up of Daniel Sancho and David Abadía, from the Aspadif Club, won the coveted first place. Meanwhile, in the mixed category, the outstanding couple composed of Sara Guasch and Xavier Scarés, from Club Addif, emerged as the undisputed winner.

The men’s competition was not without emotion, and the No Hay Límite Yecla club saw its representatives, Ramiro Hernández and Adrián Bueno, crowned champions. The mixed adapted category saw Nerea Gallego and Marco Casares, from CD San Cebrián, win the first prize.

Photo Credit: FEDDI

For its part, in the women’s sports skills division, the duo formed by Natalia Reche and Maribel Ros, from Club Aidemar, stood out for their impeccable performance. In the mixed sports skills category, the couple composed of Pablo Torres and Adrián Lapeña, from Unitts, emerged as the undisputed winner. Finally, in the individual divisions, Maider Esandia Aldaya, from El Molino, and Néstor Zoe Fernández Rodado, from Fundación Ser, won first prize in the female and male categories respectively.

The awards ceremony was the finishing touch to the competition and had the special participation of Ramón Morcillo, president of the Spanish Paddle Federation. Their prominent presence emphasizes the commitment of both federations to the promotion of inclusive sports and equal opportunities in the sporting field.

Virtus in collaboration with FEDDI is trying to promote the sport within the community of people with intellectual impairment. Anyone interested to know more about the sport or practice it is requested to get in touch with FEDDI.

Applications invited for Sport Director positions (2 posts, voluntary)

Virtus is seeking applications for two Sport Director positions – cycling and table tennis. Sport Directors are responsible for leading, managing and growing the Virtus sport and competition programme in line with the organisational vision, and for managing the Virtus Sport Committees.

Applications should be made online here and the closing date is 23:59 (UK) on 8th June 2024.

Table Tennis Committee members sought (voluntary) – multiple positions

Virtus is seeking applications to join its Table Tennis Committee for the period through to Global Games 2027. The roles offer a fantastic opportunity for coaches and sports practitioners with a good understanding of elite sport for athletes with an impairment to grow sport at a national and regional level and make a direct contribution to the running and development of the Virtus sport programme internationally.

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, rules, 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 8th June 2024.

Information about the roles

Reports to: Sport Director

Start date: Immediate

End date: Late 2027. 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.

Key Areas of Responsibility

General

  • To work collaboratively within the Sport Committee whose responsibility is to coordinate and manage the relevant Virtus sport  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 the rules of the sport 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 the Virtus sport committee
  • Virtus Executive Director and management team
  • Virtus Regions and National 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

Filip Walecki’s Inspiring First Virtus Gold Medal Win at Almaty 2024

Filip Walecki clinched his first-ever Virtus medal at the 2024 Virtus World Half Marathon and 10K Road Race in Almaty. The celebration was double as the first medal came in the form of a Gold medal.

At just 26 years old, Filip’s remarkable journey to victory serves as a powerful testament to the virtues of determination, passion, and triumph. Alongside his older brother Jakub and their three beloved dogs, Filip and his family embrace an active lifestyle, immersing themselves in a myriad of sports and activities, fostering bonds and creating cherished memories along the way. Filip is a resident of the quaint town of Czarków in southern Poland.

I feel so happy to win this Gold medal. It is a dream come true. In the autumn of 2023, my journey with Virtus began when I participated in the cross-running competition in Ciechanów. Virtus events have motivated me to train harder and be better, it has been a catalyst for my success”

For Filip, the joy of running lies in the feeling of accomplishment at the finish line.

I love it when I finish any race, the feeling of accomplishment, people recognising me and congratulations, the fact that I can say: ‘ I DID IT!!!, he proudly exclaims, reflecting on his love for the sport.

Filip has an intellectual impairment and Down syndrome and competes in the II2 competition class in the Virtus competition. Filip’s parents reflect on how Down Syndrome has profoundly impacted Filip’s and his family’s lives.

Down Syndrome has profoundly impacted every aspect of our lives. The multitude of challenges associated with this genetic condition has made every task extremely difficult, requiring an immense amount of determination and resilience to overcome. From navigating daily activities to striving towards long-term goals, the journey is often filled with many obstacles that are overwhelming for all of us.”

“The intellectual impairment further complicates matters, making it challenging, if not impossible, to fully understand the complexities of the world around us. Yet, despite these hurdles, we continue to persevere, driven by a steadfast commitment to overcoming adversity and achieving our aspirations.”

Despite facing challenges, he continues to inspire others with his resilience and commitment to success.

Filip posing on the podium at Almaty 2024. Photo Credit: IDSport

Philip gives credit to his beloved dog, Hera, an Alaskan Malamute, who sparked Filip’s interest in running, sports and fitness.

After undergoing extensive physiotherapy, my focus shifted towards sports and fitness. However, the pivotal moment came with the introduction of my pet dog- Hera, into my life. Known for their high energy levels, Hera’s need for activity motivated me to start with short walks and gradually progress to longer ones. Eventually, we ventured into the mountains, tackling ultramarathons together. In 2021, I completed my longest distance yet, covering 74 km without Hera by my side. Additionally, we participated in numerous dog trekking competitions, further fueling my passion for running and outdoor adventures.”

While training presents its challenges, Filip finds strength in his coach, Ewelina Zbijowska, and his club Start Bielsko. Filip’s ultimate goal in life is “to be the winner in anything he does.” His unwavering determination and commitment to success serve as an inspiration to all who encounter his story.

Filip Walachia’s journey is a testament to the power of perseverance, passion, and unwavering determination. As he continues to chase his dreams, Filip’s story serves as a reminder that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.

New and Returning Champions Take Center Stage At Almaty 2024

The 2024 Virtus World Half-Marathon And 10K Road Race in Almaty, Kazakhstan, showcased remarkable athleticism and sportsmanship, with athletes from around the globe converging to compete in this prestigious event. Among the outstanding performances, the host nation Kazakhstan shone brightly along with Cristiano Pereira, who stayed undefeated in the Half-Marathon once again leaving an indelible mark on the competition.

(L-R) Yudai Takayama, Cristiano Pereira, Keiya Kobayashi at 21km race Alamaty 2024. Photo Credit: IDSport

In the Men’s 21 km II1 category, Cristiano Pereira of Portugal clinched the gold with a stellar time of 1:06:46, displaying exceptional speed and endurance. Yudai Takayama and Keiya Kobayashi of Japan claimed the silver and bronze medals, respectively, showcasing their determination and skill on the challenging course.

Winners from Men’s 10 km II1 (L) and Women’s 21 km II1 (R). Photo Credit: IDSport

Ibai Magdaleno Palacios of Spain dominated the Men’s 10 km II1 category, crossing the finish line in 33:15 to secure the gold medal. Daniel Bosy of Poland and Viktor Karadzhov of Bulgaria demonstrated impressive performances to clinch the silver and bronze medals, respectively, highlighting their prowess in the shorter distance.

“The competition was wonderful. I have been practising a lot and after months of work, this is the best possible reward,” Magdaleno acknowledged

In the Men’s II2 10 km road race, Poland’s Filip Walecki showed resilience and true sportsman spirit by running the solo race in his category and was awarded gold.

In the Women’s 21 km II1 category, Poland’s Monika Wyrobek thrashed last edition’s champion, Anna and emerged victorious, clocking an impressive time of 1:32:07 to claim the gold medal. Anna Bodziony secured the silver medal.

 

(L-R) Host nation runners, Azamat Ashirbay, Dastan Ordabay and Madi Zhakyp flaunting their flag on the podium in the II3 category. Photo Credit: IDSport

Host nation Kazakhstan truly excelled in the Men’s 10 km II3 category, with Dastan Ordabay leading the charge to claim the gold medal with a remarkable time of 47:41. Azamat Ashirbay and Madi Zhakyp showcased their talent and determination, securing the silver and bronze medals, respectively, to the delight of the home crowd.

2024 Virtus World Half-Marathon And 10K Road race Declared Open At Almaty, Kazakhstan

The 2024 Virtus World Half-Marathon and 10K Road race was declared open today in Almaty, Kazakhstan. This event is significantly important for Virtus as this event is making its way to the Asian region for the first time event and is hosted by Kazakhstan’s Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Impairment- IDSport.

The Virtus World Championship is included in the official republican calendar of events in the Ministry of Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Athletes from 8 countries, Portugal, Bulgaria, Japan, Poland, China, Spain, Sweden and Kazakhstan, will compete at Almaty 2024.

During the Opening Ceremony the President of Virtus Asia, the Secretary General of NPC Kazakhstan and Kazakhstan ID Sports Federation welcomed all participants including delegates, representatives of NGOs, sports organizations and the press. Participants of the event stood for the anthem of Virtus and flags were displayed.

Expressing excitement for the event, Dina Temirgaliyeva, President of Kazakhstan’s Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Impairment said,

“We are delighted to have all the athletes, officials and parents here at Almaty 2024. The competition coincides with World Autism Awareness Month which has added additional importance to this event apart from being the first one in the Asian region and shows our commitment to the principles of inclusion and equality in sports.”

The Virtus representatives, the leader of the Kazakhstan Paralympic Committee, the IEA sports federation, and the athletics federation of the Republic of Kazakhstan with the participation of experts hosted a media briefing conference “VIRTUS, development of high-achieving sports for athletes with intellectual impairments in the Republic of Kazakhstan” on April 20, 2024.

Dina Temirgaliyeva, President of IDSport (left) and Patrick Chan, President of Virtus Asia (right) at the media briefing

“I’m very glad to be here. Thanks to Kazakhstan for hosting. I hope that everyone will have only good impressions. Virtus gives people/athletes with an intellectual impairment the opportunity to develop and excel in sports, and through its various pathways, it provides the opportunity to participate in various international competitions like Virtus Global Games, Virtus World Championships, Regional Games and the Paralympic Games. Our vision is an inclusive world for athletes with an intellectual impairment” said Mr Patrick Chan, the President of Virtus Asia.

Mr Olzhas Akpambetov, Secretary General of NPC Kazakhstan, also attended the opening ceremony and was thrilled to meet the athletes from different countries.

“On the part of the National Paralympic Committee, we support the idea of hosting the first World Virtus Half Marathon Championships here in Kazakhstan wholeheartedly. We hope that the athletes will show us their best results. And this will be just the beginning of organising such marathons in Kazakhstan on an annual basis. I hope that the result of this event will attract more athletes from all over Central Asia in the next editions.”

The races will officially commence on April 21, 2024, and are included in the annual Almaty Half Marathon program with the support of the “Courage to be the First” foundation and Almaty City Council administration.

The 2023 European half-marathon champion, Cristiano Pereira from Portugal, is also making his way to Almaty for the event. The host nation will be represented by a team of six athletes from II1 (athletes with intellectual impairment) and II3 (athletes with autism), including 5 runners from Astana and 1 from Almaty.

For accreditation and additional information, please contact the press service of the Federation and follow updated information on social networks. 

Contact for media enquiries:

Name: Tansholpan Tel.: +7 (707) -555 39 83 | Email: info@idsport.org.

Results, news alerts and detailed information will be available on the IDSport website and Virtus website along with their social media handles.

Unveiling Virtus’ Inaugural Anti-Doping Awareness Program On Play True Day

April 19th marks a significant occasion in the world of sports – it’s celebrated globally as ‘PLAY TRUE’ day, launched by World Anti-Doping Agency – WADA exactly a decade ago. The origin of Play True Day traces back to an Education Conference convened by WADA in 2013, attended by representatives from 17 Latin American countries. Since its inception in 2014, Play True Day has evolved into an annual global celebration, dedicated to promoting clean sport and raising awareness about the imperative of doping prevention among athletes, sporting enthusiasts, and the broader community.  

This year, Virtus Sport is proud to announce the launch of its inaugural ‘Anti-Doping Awareness Program’, reaffirming its commitment to clean and fair competition. As a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code, Virtus stands firm in its resolve to combat doping in all its forms. 

Virtus Sport Anti-Doping Officer, Juliana Soares, spearheading our awareness program, stated, 

I am thrilled with the launch of this campaign and the unwavering support from the entire Virtus team and our partners. Anti-doping education for athletes with intellectual impairments is as important as it is for any other athlete, and thus, we have initiated the “Virtus Anti-Doping Awareness Program.” 

This initiative aims to equip athletes with simple yet effective tools, fostering a proactive and engaging approach towards understanding anti-doping principles.” 

“We see this project as a way for our athletes to understand anti-doping better and feel sure about it. Athletes with an intellectual impairment need to know that they are an important part of the sports community and must follow WADA rules. At Virtus, we promise to help them with the right guidance and support they need.” 

The Anti-Doping Educational Program aims to empower athletes, coaches, parents, and National Member Organisations with vital knowledge and resources to uphold the principles of clean sport. Through engaging visual content and educational videos, we’ll cover a range of topics, including: 

  • What is anti-doping? 
  • List of prohibited items 
  • The doping test process 
  • Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) 
  • Rights and duties of athletes, coaches, parents, and Virtus Sport  members 
  • Consequences of doping 

In addition to these resources, Virtus will host monthly online seminars, diving into each topic in-depth and providing participants with valuable insights and practical advice. To make learning interactive and enjoyable, we’ll conclude each month with a fun quiz in the form of multiple-choice questions, hosted on Virtus’ Instagram page. 

On this Play True Day, Virtus Sport invites you to join us in championing the values of integrity, fairness, and respect in sport. Together, let’s take a stand for clean competition and inspire a culture of honesty and accountability. 

For more information, visit the Virtus Anti-Doping program page.

Call for Participation: Shape the Future of Anti-Doping Education  

Virtus is teaming up with researchers from Canterbury Christ Church University to elevate the quality of anti-doping materials delivered by Virtus Sport, and we need your input! 

Join us for engaging discussions scheduled for May 1st, May 31st, and June 28th. Your feedback is invaluable in refining future anti-doping content to be both effective and engaging. 

 Eligibility: 

  • Athletes must belong to the II1 Class. 
  • Participants must have watched the anti-doping educational videos and attended the seminar delivered by Virtus. 

This is your chance to share what you enjoyed about the session and program and provide feedback on how it could be improved. 

As a token of our appreciation for your time and contribution, participants will receive £75 compensation. 

Interested athletes are requested to contact the lead researcher, Philip Hurst philip.hurst@canterbury.ac.uk to book the place (please note, that spaces are limited, so this will be a first come first serve basis). 

Let’s pave the way for a cleaner, fairer, and more informed sporting landscape together. Don’t miss this opportunity to have your voice heard and make a tangible impact on anti-doping education.