The Virtus Global Games hold profound significance for many athletes. For some, they are an opportunity to proudly represent their country on a global stage whilst for others, they mark a lifetime achievement, symbolizing their dedication and talent in their respective sports in their pursuit of sporting excellence.
Despite facing challenging circumstances, Team Ukraine attended the 2023 Global Games with a team of 18 athletes, 14 in athletics and 4 in table tennis, finishing 14th overall in the medal table.
During their preparations, many athletes with intellectual impairments had to be evacuated to safer places by Virtus Ukraine, as they were residing in regions affected by the ongoing conflict. Despite the fear and uncertainties, the motivation from their coaches played a crucial role in helping them stay focused on their goals.
“They were all very scared because of what was happening when we rescued them. Sometimes they were crying in the middle of the night and during training too. The motivational talks of their coaches helped them a lot during that time I think,” Iryna Aleksieieva, Ukraine’s HOD, told Virtus Sport.
“We have some of the best para-athletes, paralympic champions. We stood strong. When I look back now at the Games, I think they did a wonderful job. In athletics, they won twelve golds, six silvers and five bronzes and came second overall.” She further added.
Among these champions, Maksym Koval stood out, breaking two Virtus World Records in the II1 men’s shot put and discus throw events.
Ukrainian para-athletes are admired as epitomes of resilience and strength, inspiring people both with and without disabilities. Their unwavering determination leaves a lasting impact on the global stage of para-athletics.
The GG2023 event showcased the power of sports to provide hope and unite athletes in the pursuit of excellence, despite the difficult circumstances they may face.