Celebrating Inaugural Games for Athletes with Autism: GG2023 Legacy Story

The 2023 Virtus Global Games (GG2023) made history as it included the II3 eligibility group (for athletes with autism) to its full medal programme for the first time. This marked a significant milestone in the sporting world providing an inclusive platform for 106 events across nine sports: Swimming, Table Tennis, Athletics, Tennis, Judo, Taekwondo, Cycling, Equestrian, and Rowing. The inaugural event showcased remarkable talents and unrivalled determination, leaving an indelible mark on the global sports community. A record total of 79 athletes (60 male and 19 females) from 19 countries competed.

Unprecedented Achievements:

Maria Kjer Rasmussen and  Axel Parisot Photo Credit: Grégory Picout

Among the inspiring competitors, two athletes stood out, Maria Kjer Rasmussen from Denmark and Axel Parisot from France. These exceptional athletes etched their names in Virtus history, setting best-performance records in an astonishing eight events each. Maria-Kjer’s brilliance shone in the 100m-200m Backstroke, 100m-200m Breaststroke, 50m-100m Butterfly, and 200m-400m Individual Medley, while Axel Parisot impressed in the 50m-100m-200m-400m-800m Freestyle and 200m Individual Medley, along with contributing to the French relay team’s victories in 4x50m and 4x100m Individual Medley.

A Triumph for Kazakhstan:

Dastan Ordabay (first from left). Photo Credit: Grégory Picot

Amidst the jubilation, Kazakhstan celebrated its first participation in the Virtus competition with pride. Dastan Ordabay made his nation proud by clinching four silver medals. A truly historic moment for Kazakhstan’s sports landscape, his achievements were a testament to the power of dedication and resilience.

Inclusive Empowerment:

The impact of GG2023 extends far beyond the podium – they’ve shattered stereotypes, rewritten expectations, and showcased the boundless capabilities of individuals with autism.

Dina Temirgaliyeva, Kazakhstan’s Head of Delegation (HOD), emphasized the significance of Virtus events for athletes with intellectual impairments and autism. According to her, GG2023 has opened doors to high-performance competitions for these exceptional athletes, representing hope and inspiration for every child facing similar challenges in Kazakhstan.

The GG2023 demonstrated the true essence of sportsmanship and inclusivity, setting an example for future generations. The games left a lasting legacy, resonating with the global audience and fostering greater acceptance, and understanding, celebrating athletes with autism and promoting inclusivity.

Virtus Sport continues to pave the way for a more inclusive and compassionate future in sports, empowering individuals of all abilities to showcase their talent on the world stage.