The 6th edition of the Virtus Global Games are almost here and are set to be the biggest yet.
With a larger sport programme and larger medal programme, more than 1200 athletes have provisionally registered to compete from 44 nations.
The Virtus Global Games are the world's largest elite sporting event for people with an intellectual impairment. This edition takes place in Vichy - France and preparations have been underway for more than 4 years; a period which has seen a lot of disruption but one in which the Games have provided a focus for athletes from around the world to aim for.
This year, athletes with autism (II3) will compete in full medal competition for the first time, in addition to the existing eligibility categories for II1 (intellectual disability) and II2 (significant impairment).
The sport programme has grown too with the addition of equestrian, karate and judo amongst others - a testament to the work Virtus is doing to grow opportunities worldwide for people with an intellectual impairment.
As President of Virtus, but also Chair of the Organising Committee, I am excited to be bringing the Games to France just one year ahead of the Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024. For many athletes worldwide, the Virtus Global Games is the pinnacle of their sport and a gold medal at the Games represents the highest possible acheivement. For some though the Games provide a qualification opportunity to Paris next year, providing an extra incentive to their training and preparation.
Your support has been critical to making this possible. The past few years have seen disruption and unprecedented limitations on our day to day activities, yet more athletes from more nations are targetting the Global Games in just a few months time.
Thankyou to everyone who supports Virtus through their giving, and I look forward to bringing you stories from the Games in a future update.
The second edition of the Virtus European Summer Games (VESG) took place from 18-23rd July in Cracow, Poland.
The championship was attended by more than 500 athletes representing eighteen countries from the European region including Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey who competed across nine sports. Invited athletes from Australia also participated in the Tennis event and athletes from Ecuador joined in the Cycling event. The nine sports on offer were athletics, swimming, table tennis, basketball, handball, tennis, cycling, rowing, and badminton, a new discipline in the Virtus competition calendar.
A total of twenty-five new Virtus World Records were set at VESG. In swimming, twenty-two Short Course Virtus World Records were set, several of which were set in the heats and again later in the finals, and in one case as the lead swimmer in a Relay. Paralympians such as Pernille Lindberg (SWE), Aymeric Parmentier (BEL), Eva Coronado and Nathan Maillet (FRA) were some of those who set new records at the pool. Meanwhile, Track and Field stars from Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - Ndiaga Dieng (ITA), Karolina Kucharczyk and Barbara Bieganowska (POL) broke Virtus Records in their favourite events.
The first inaugural Virtus Oceania-Asia Games are less than a month away and will be hosted in Brisbane, Australia from 5th to 11th November by Sport Inclusion Australia. With hundreds of athletes and officials from Asia, the Pacific and New Zealand coming to Australia, the OA Games 2022 will celebrate diversity, sport, people, ability and culture in a major sporting event allowing athletes to compete on a world stage.
You can read more about our event updates and athletes’ performance on Virtus website.
Virtus works with many thousands of athletes each of whom is aiming to be the best they can be in sport - whether that is in a local or national competition, a Virtus World Championship or the Global Games. While the number of participants has increased, there are still many nations in developing and underdeveloped nations that need our help and support to be able to compete at elite s events for athletes with intellectual impairment.
Unfortunately, Virtus does not qualify for government funding or the financial support that has been made available to some not-for-profit organisations during the pandemic. Your help - following us on social media, sharing our stories and updates, donations and assistance - have been all the more appreciated during this difficult period and now more than ever we would like to thank you for your support.
After very limited competition over the past 2.5 years, we are delighted that the Virtus European Games in July mark the next step in our long-awaited return to competition with more than 400 athletes due to participate across a range of sports in Poland.
Following this will be the Americas Games (Brazil - September) and Oceania-Asia Games in November - our largest programme of Regional Championships ever.
This is a particularly important development as Regional Games not only provide the important stepping stone for athletes looking to break-through into international competition, but are also an important test opportunity for new sports which might one day be added to the Virtus programme. Badminton, Equestrian and Rugby are amongst those sports being considered as part of a demonstration programme which runs alongside the main competition events.
Taking place one year before the Virtus Global Games - the world's largest sporting competition for athletes with an intellectual impairment - the Regional Games will be an important qualification opportunity and a chance for athletes to make their mark ahead of selection.
As always, the support of our many followers around the world is critical to our ability to grow and deliver new opportunities like the Regional Games. We thank each and everyone of you for your commitment to sport for athletes with an intellectual impairment.
To find out more, read event updates and follow the success of athletes then visit our website or follow us on social media and we look forward to sharing Virtus athlete success stories with you in the coming weeks.
After two years with almost no international competition, we are excited to have a packed progrmme of championships coming up in 2022.
Our season begins with the Virtus World Football Championships in France in June. This brings together the top-8 ranked teams from around the World including Saudi Arabia, who will be going for a record 5th World Cup title.
Then we head to Poland for the 2nd European Regional Games - a multi-sport event bringing together athletes from across Europe for a week long celebration of the very best that sport can offer.
In September and November it's the inaugural Regional Games in Americas and Oceania/Asia respectively - growing our regional competition programme across the world - where many athletes will already be seeking qualification times for the 2023 Virtus Global Games, now just 17 months away.
And in addition to these major events we have the World Cross-Country Championships in the USA and more - for the full calendar visit our website.
As the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, there are still many uncertainties to navigate. However, this has been a particularly difficult time for athletes with an intellectual impairment who have been denied the opportunity to take to the track, pool or court to inspire the world through sport.
Virtus research has shown that funding to organisations that support athletes has been cut in many places and for many, a missed competition opportunity can never be replaced.
So we would like to thank all of those people who have chosen to support Virtus over the past two years. Whether through virtual competition, by connecting people and organisations, by developing online training and education or by doing whatever we could to grow awareness of sport for athletes with an intellectual impairment we were committed to supporting athletes through this difficult period... and this was all made possible by your generous support.
We look forward to once again being able to share stories of athlete success on the field of play as our competition programme resumes in June, and wish all supporters a safe and very successful 2022.
After a delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Paralympic Games recently took place in Tokyo, celebrating the very best of sport for people with an impairment.
The Games featured 161 athletes with an Intellectual impairment competing in three sports - swimming (S14), table tennis (Class-11) and athletics (T20 and F20) - and their incredible performances inspired the world.
Only a small number of athletes will ever have the chance to reach the Paralymppic Games, but through its member organisations around the world, Virtus works with many thousands of athletes each of whom are aiming to be the best they can be in sport - whether that is in a local or national competition, a Virtus World Championship or the Global Games.
Our Paralympic role models inspire the next generation of athletes, help break down barriers and improve understanding and awareness. Virtus would like to congratulate every athlete who competed in Tokyo and we are pleased to share our video of the highlights below.
Ready to help Virtus support the next generation of athletes? Your donation will help us to support more athletes, from more nations and in more sports. Thank you for your support from everyone at Virtus.
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