Virtus Ambassador & Paralympic Champion Jessica-Jane Applegate, MBE

First wave of #SportChampions announced to celebrate International Women’s Day

Jessica-Jane Applegate MBE

Jessica-Jane Applegate MBE is an international GB para-swimmer. She competes in the S14 category for athletes with an intellectual disability and is the only Great British Gold Medal S14 Paralympian, after winning Gold in the 200m freestyle event at the London 2012 Paralympics at just 16 years old.

She was awarded an MBE in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to swimming.

In the few years, Jessica-Jane has set over 80 new British Swimming records, several World & European Records, won Gold in the 2015 IPC World Championships for S14 100m Backstroke amongst numerous other medal-winning achievements & most recently was awarded ‘Para-athlete of the Year’ at the 2015 British Swimming Awards.

Jessica-Jane added the first Commonwealth medal to her collection recently by winning a Silver at the Birmingham 2022.

“I am very excited to continue my role as an Ambassador for Virtus World Intellectual Impairment Sport. Virtus makes it possible for people with intellectual disabilities to be able to compete at an international level. They open up the pathway to enable athletes like myself to compete on the international stage against the best ID athletes in the world. I have no doubt this has helped me become the Paralympic athlete I am today. I also think it is very important to support everyone that supports you. Their work as a charity is massively important to athletes at every level.”

View Jessica’s IPC profile.

Female athletes with an intellectual impairment targeted through new campaign

A female athlete celebrates winning gold

Getty Images

The International Federation for Intellectual Impairment Sport (World Intellectual Impairment Sport) will target potential athletes through a new campaign which aims to attract more women into sport.

#WeAreSport will recruit up to 20 current athletes to receive training in traditional and digital media techniques. This will help them to raise their profile and cement their place as role models for the next generation.

The same number of administrators from World Intellectual Impairment Sport member organisations will also be given resources and support to enable them to champion women in sport in their countries.

It is hoped that the activities of these ‘Sport Champions’ will lead to more women and girls trying sport and ultimately becoming elite athletes.

“We know from participation across the 15 sports we manage that female athletes are underrepresented,” Robyn Smith, World Intellectual Impairment Sport Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of Sport Inclusion Australia who are co-funding the project, said.

“This is not unique to any particular sport or part of the world, but is a challenge faced by almost everyone in all regions.

“At the Paralympic level there were four countries who finished in the top 10 in the medals table that entered less women than men with intellectual impairments to Rio 2016.

“At the grassroots women and girls with intellectual impairments struggle with the confidence to try sport much more than their male counterparts. Awareness of sport specifically for this group is also still developing.

“We want to help showcase athletes who have not just overcome the same challenges, but have excelled on the global stage. And then we want to help build the structures and expertise so others can do the same.”

The first activities for #WeAreSport will take place in early 2018 with a training webinar for the 40 athletes and administrators. Each athlete will also receive a specially designed media pack containing their biography, pictures and graphics they can share on social media.

The administrators will be given materials and guidance to help them attract female athletes to try sports. As part of their commitment they will deliver at least one development workshop in their country for women and girls.

The project will mainly focus on Asia, Oceania and Africa. Athletes and personnel from other regions will also be included.

Activities will climax on the 2018 International Day of Sport for Athletes with an Intellectual Impairment which will carry the #WeAreSport theme.

#WeAreSport is supported by a grant from the Agitos Foundation, the development arm of the International Paralympic Committee.

World Intellectual Impairment Sport represents more than 300,000 athletes with intellectual impairments around the world. We give elite athletes the chance to compete at an international level and on the Paralympic stage. But we cannot continue our work towards the inclusion of the people with intellectual impairments in society without your support.

We are a registered charity and your help can make a big difference. Find out more