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.

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