Lenine Cunha represented Athletes with II at IPC Athletes’ Forum

The 95th International Paralympic Committee Governing Board meeting was held in Seoul, South Korea from the 21st to the 24th of June which was followed by the IPC Athletes Forum from the 25th to the 27th of June. Both events were hosted by the Korean Paralympic Committee at the National Training Centre, known for its exceptional facilities including 300 accessible rooms and amenities.

During the IPC Governing Board meeting, President Andrew Parsons, CEO Mike Peters, Governing Board members, and staff came together to discuss various topics and provided updates on the processes and policies of the IPC, on the Games and on future plans. The overarching aim was to work towards the IPC’s vision of creating an inclusive world through the promotion and development of para-sport.

The three-day IPC Athletes Forum was conducted soon after the Governing Board meeting and more than 60 athlete representatives participated in the third IPC Athletes’ Forum. Virtus and Athletes with intellectual impairments were represented for the first time ever at an IPC Athletes Forum by Track and Field legend and Virtus Ambassador, Lenine Cunha.

Robyn Smith and Lenine Cunha at the 2023 IPC Athletes’ forum.

“It was amazing. I felt very welcomed and of course, for me, it was a great honour to be the first one to represent  Virtus. We talked about a lot of things like athletes’ future after retirement, their mental health, anti-doping and how IPC can support athletes with intellectual impairment more”, said Lenine Cunha.

“Athletes with intellectual impairments need more opportunities at Paralympic Games like more events and sports and IPC President, Andrew Parsons said he will look into this, if not for Paris 2024 but for LA2028”, he further added.

On day one, discussions on a variety of topics including the impact of Para sports, leadership, Paralympic Games and anti-doping.

The second day of the forum primarily focused on classification, covering the basics and providing an update on the IPC Athlete Classification Code review. There was also a session on governance, emphasizing athlete representation in IPC Committees under the new IPC Constitution. The day concluded with a Q&A session with IPC President Andrew Parsons and IPC CEO Mike Peters, allowing attendees to ask questions and gain further insights.

The forum’s final day, held on June 27, featured a panel discussion centred around athlete representation, as well as discussions on athlete well-being and career transition. Additionally, a breakout session was conducted to explore the essential qualities that an athlete leader should possess.

Andrew Parsons, IPC President said, “The IPC Athletes’ Forum was a fantastic opportunity for the IPC to inform athletes about our ongoing work but most importantly for the IPC to hear first-hand from athletes about their issues, challenges and things that matter most to them. To engage with athletes for three full days, away from competition, to learn more will make the IPC an even better, more athlete-focused organisation.”

Robyn Smith, Vice President of Virtus and IPC Governing Board member also attended the Athletes’ forum to support Lenine, but she was proud to say,

Lenine was simply exceptional, represented Virtus with honour, met many IPC leaders charming them with his personal skills and really did not need my support. Lenine proved that he can represent Virtus and athletes with intellectual impairments on any IPC athlete committee independently’.

Virtus conducted an athletes’ forum during the Virtus Global Games, and with Lenine’s exceptional leadership, the organization aims to nurture and strengthen this group, fostering continued growth and success