The Commonwealth Games Federation this week announced the full list of medal events for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Included in that list are three events for athletes with an intellectual disability, the S14 200m freestyle for men and women and a mixed relay.
The previous Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018 were lauded as the most gender equal multi-sports event in history. An amazing goal which Games organisers did achieve. It was also an amazing inclusive event with a large number of events for athletes with a disability.
Unfortunately for female swimmers with an intellectual disability, the Games did not feel equal or inclusive with the sole event for athletes with an intellectual disability being for men only.
This inequality wasn’t lost on Commonwealth Games Federation President Dame Louise Martin DBE either.
Sport Inclusion Australia CEO, Robyn Smith was fortunate to meet Martin on two occasions, once at a forum during the Games and then again at Sport Acord Summit held on the Gold Coast in May 2019. Martin was aware of the inequality, stating she personally awarded the medal to the Men’s 200m S14 Freestyle event at the Games and questioned where the women were and gave an assurance that this would be rectified.
“I was fortunate to meet with Louise at a forum on the Gold Coast during the Games where I raised the issue and then again at Sport Accord Summit 18 months later, we discussed a range of topics and I applauded Louise and the Commonwealth Games Federation for the amazing work to make this Games gender equal and the wonderful inclusion of events for athletes with a disability. I was able to point out to Louise that even though there was an overall gender balance, that sadly this was not the case for athletes with an intellectual disability. To my surprise Louise was aware of the inequality and gave me her word that this would be rectified at the next Games.” Smith said
Martin was true to her word as this week’s announcement of events for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games includes event for male and female S14 swimmers.
Smith who is also Vice President of the International organisation Virtus is keen to see developments across all sports and competitions, “we would like to see events added in Athletics and Table Tennis in the future along with the other events for athletes with an intellectual disability, but this inclusion is a positive move by the Commonwealth Games Federation “ Smith said.
The Games will be held in Birmingham England from 28 July to 8 August 2022, 4 months prior to the Virtus Oceania Asia Games in Brisbane in November.
Contact: Robyn Smith (CEO Sport Inclusion Australia) 0418 979 459. Robyn.firstname.lastname@example.org