Wai Lok Tang waves to the crowd during a medal ceremony at the Rio 2016 Paralympics

World Intellectual Impairment Sport Swimming Open Championships (Asia) to head to Hong Kong

The International Federation for Athletes with Intellectual Impairments (World Intellectual Impairment Sport) has announced that the 2020 World Intellectual Impairment Sport Swimming Open Championships (Asia) will be held at the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park Swimming Pool in Hong Kong, China, from 9-11 January.

The competition will follow the 2019 World Intellectual Impairment Sport Global Games in Brisbane, Australia, and take place just over seven months ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

As a result, around 150 of Asia’s best swimmers from 12 countries are expected to compete.

Dave Harman, Chairperson of the World Intellectual Impairment Sport Swimming Committee, said: “This is only the second regional World Intellectual Impairment Sport Championships of its kind to take place in Asia so we are excited to add it as a building block to our calendar.

“It will be a perfect preview for Tokyo 2020 as well as offering athletes in other eligibility groups the chance to compete at the highest level.

“We cannot wait to kick-start a very important year in Hong Kong by welcoming new Global Games champions and potential future Paralympic medallists too.

“I would like to thank the Hong Kong Sports Association for Persons with an Intellectual Disability (HKSAPID) for organising the competition. I look forward to working with them to deliver an exceptional event.”

Patrick Chan, Chairperson of HKSPAID, said:  “We are proud to be able to host this competition for the first time in Hong Kong and to welcome the best swimmers from all over the world. My team is making the best efforts to make it a pleasant and unforgettable experience for all participants.”

The 200m freestyle S14 Paralympic champion Tang Wai Lok, one of Hong Kong’s best swimmers with an intellectual impairment, said: “I can’t wait to race with so many excellent swimmers in this event, I’m always excited and ready to swim my best.”

Three eligibility groups will be contested in Hong Kong. The II1 group contains athletes with intellectual impairments who also compete in the S14 classification in World Para Swimming events and the Paralympics.

II2 is for athletes with a more significant impairment, such as Down syndrome. Following a year-long trial this group is now a full medal event. The II3 group for athletes with high functioning autism will take place on a trial-only basis as research continues.

World Intellectual Impairment Sport Swimming have applied to World Para Swimming to sanction the event.

The 2020 World Intellectual Impairment Sport Swimming Open Championships (Asia) will follow the Brisbane 2019 Global Games, the world’s biggest high performance sports event for athletes with an intellectual impairment. Around 1,000 athletes are expected to compete in 11 sports between 12-19 October.