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Australian Swimming Team Announced

Sport Inclusion Australia today announced the team to represent Australia at the 2022 Virtus Oceania Asia Games in Brisbane.   Our largest swim team with 41 swimmers will see a mix of Paralympic, World Championship and Commonwealth Games representatives alongside 21 swimmers making their Virtus debut for Australia.

The team will be headed by Commonwealth Games representatives Jack Ireland, Liam Schluter, Madeleine McTernan and Jade Lucy along with Tokyo Paralympian Ricky Betar, London Paralympic Silver medallist Taylor Corry and multiple DSISO World record holder Phoebe Mitchell.

Corry made her debut for Australia in 2011 at the Virtus Global Games in Italy winning 8 Gold and 1 Silver medal.  Since then she has won a Silver medal at the 2012 London Paralympics and competed at World Para Swimming World Championships in 2013 and 2015 winning a Bronze medal.  Corry will make her return to Virtus competition after an absence of 11 years.

“It is great to see our young swimmers making their debut alongside our experienced swimmers such as Schluter, Corry, Lucy, McTernan and Ireland” said head coach Herbie Howard.  “With the Virtus Global Games coming up in 2023 and Paris Paralympics just around the corner in 2024, these Games on home soil will be an invaluable opportunity for the aspiring swimmers and staff” Howard said.

The team has good numbers across all of the Virtus eligibility groups and will look to build on its dominance in the pool at the 2019 Virtus Global Games.

“Australia has a proud history in the pool and has been the dominant country at Virtus Global Games, this team with its blend of experienced and debutant swimmers will look to continue that dominance at these Games and next year at the Virtus Global Games in France. “ said Sport Inclusion Australia  CEO Robyn Smith.

“We are particularly pleased to see swimmers such as Corry, McTernan, Lucy, Schluter and Ireland all of whom made their international debut with Virtus and have gone on to represent Australia at Paralympic, World Championships and or Commonwealth Games continue to support our team and the Virtus pathway.” Smith added.

The Australian Swimming team is:

Men

II-1 Joshua Alford (ACT), Bailey Stewart (QLD), Ryan McGrane (VIC), Liam Schluter (QLD), Kaden Smith (NSW), Ricky Betar (NSW), Jack Ireland (QLD), Jarrod Dyer (NSW), Lachlan Hanratty (NSW)
Youth Darren Sisman (NSW), Samuel Gould (NSW), Declan Budd (NSW), Harry Keane (NSW)
II-2 Charles Wilkins (SA), Bradley Doolan (VIC), Russell Booysen (QLD), Harry Cahill (QLD)
II-3 Isaac Howells (NSW), Adriano Sorrentino (NSW), Blake Price (NSW), Jakob Thompson (NSW), Gabriel Cregan (SA)

Women

II-1 Madeleine McTernan (QLD), Montana Atkinson (QLD), Stephanie Bruzzese (NSW), Yasmine-Bella Younes (NSW), Jade Lucy (NSW), Kael Thompson (QLD), Airlie Davis (QLD), Taylor Corry (NSW)
II-2 Elizabeth Hocart (QLD), Madeline Fox (VIC), Phoebe Mitchell (VIC), Katrina Coffey (NSW), Caitlin Kerby (QLD), Taylor Anderton (QLD), Lily Crawford (NSW)
II-3 Bel Dabic (WA), Porscha Jimmieson (NSW), Amelia Moore (NSW), Summer-Skye Crisp (QLD)

 

2022 Commonwealth Games Bronze medallist Jack Ireland and 2011 Global Games Gold medallist Taylor Corry

The Virtus Oceania Games will run from 5-11 November in Brisbane.

 

Contact

Sport Inclusion Australia: sport@siasport.org
Virtus Oceania Asia Games: info@oagames2022.org

Largest Athletics Team Ever

Sport inclusion Australia announced today the largest ever Athletics team to represent Australia at a Virtus event.  A total of 39 athletes (24 male and 15 female) have been selected to represent Australia at the inaugural Vitus Oceania Asia Games in Brisbane in November.

In announcing the team Sport Inclusion Australia CEO Robyn Smith highlighted the diversity of selection across all Virtus groups and importantly the large number of new athletes making their debut.  “This is the largest team selected to represent Australia in Athletics and we are particularly pleased to see the development of athletes across all three Virtus groups, youth competitors and the large number of athletes making their debut.”  Smith said.

The growth in numbers can be largely attributed to the success of the 2019 Virtus Global Games in Brisbane an event that raised the profile of athletes with an intellectual impairment and awareness of  the pathways and opportunities for the athletes including competing at the highest level of competition representing Australia.  The success of the 2019 Global Games and the pathways available through School sport and the Athletics Australia competition structure have all attributed to a significant increase in registrations of athletes with an intellectual impairment.  The size of this team and the abundance of new athletes making their debut is testimony to this growth.

The team consists of 24 male and 15 female athletes of which 16 are making their Virtus International debut.

Queensland’s Riley Mann (18) is looming as one of many athletes to watch.  Mann competed in his first multi class competition as a T20 athlete in March at the Queensland Athletics Championships where he took on fellow Queenslander and Paralympian Alberto Campbell over 400m.  Mann claiming victory in that event and again weeks later at the Australian Championships.  Mann will join Campbell in the Australian team where they will compete together over 400m and in the 4 x 400m relay.

For many athletes the emergence of such a strong competitor and heir to their throne would be a challenge but Campbell sees it differently.  ‘I made my first Australian team in 2013 winning a Bronze medal in the 400m, since then I have competed at World Para Athletics and Virtus World Championships and in 2021 I represented Jamaica at the Paralympics.  I am excited to see an athlete like Riley come along and have the opportunity to not only compete against but also support him as he commences his journey, it is an honour not a challenge.” Campbell says.

New South Wales Telaya Blacksmith (14) is still eligible for the Youth competition, but with the withdrawal of Stephanie Schweitzer who also made her debut at 14, Blacksmith will enter the Games as Australia’s leading female sprinter competing in the 100m, 200m, 400m and long jump events.

Hosting a regional event like this here in Brisbane also provides Sport Inclusion Australia with the opportunity to include younger athletes in the Youth competition, an opportunity that provides athletes with the exposure to team culture, international competition and motivation to continue their development along the Virtus Global Games and Paralympic pathways.

The Virtus Oceania Asia games will be the inaugural Regional Championship in the Oceania Asia region bringing together athletes from across the region to compete across 12 sports.  The athletics competition is sanctioned by World Para Athletics and will also provide valuable classification opportunities for athletes in the Paralympic pathway.

With the Virtus Global Games in Vichy, France less than 12 months away the Virtus Oceania Asia Regional Games will play a key role in athlete and team development.

“We are so pleased to be able to provide this exciting opportunity for so many new and young athletes.  The opportunity for the athletes to compete in an event of this stature on home soil and the opportunity for coaches and staff to work with the athletes is critical.”  Said Anula Costa Head Coach of the Athletics team.

The Virtus Oceania Games will run from 5-11 November in Brisbane.

Australian Athletics Team

Men

II-1:       Aaron Houston (NSW), Alberto Campbell (QLD), Blake Carr (NSW), Cameron Marshall (VIC), Daniel Milone (VIC), Andrew Semmens (VIC), Edward Parker (NSW), Kyle McIntosh (NSW), Lindsey Hendy (QLD) , Lleyton Lloyd (NSW) , Riley Mann (QLD), Sammy Muamba (NSW), Timothy D’Abrera (ACT), Timon Sideris (SA),

II-2:       Matthew Walk (QLD), Andre Rivett (QLD), Ethan Parry (QLD), Hugo Taheny (SA),

II-3:       Liam Griffett (VIC), Daniel Bartholomaeus (ACT),

Youth:  Jordan Rudd (VIC), Malachi Canning (NSW), Zane Newton (NSW).

Women

II-1:       Emily Aichberger (TAS), Rebecca Mathers (TAS), Amelia Mazzei (NSW), Annabelle Colman (VIC), Annabelle Rodgers (NSW), Belinda Slatter (QLD), Caytlyn Sharp (VIC), Ebonie Cooper (QLD), Eliesha Byrt (VIC), Georgia Powning (VIC), Jessie Venner (QLD), Lillee Wakefield (SA), Telaya Blacksmith (NSW) ,

II-3:       Kobi-Lee Dyer (VIC)

Youth:  Caitlin Bargwanna (NSW), Samantha Witter (NSW)

Contact

Sport Inclusion Australia: sport@siasport.org

Virtus Oceania Asia Games: info@oagames2022.org

Petrakis and Barker to make debut for Australia

South Australia’s Andriana Petrakis and Queensland’s Luke Barker are set to make their debut for Australia at the Virtus European Tennis Championships in Poland next week.

Petrakis came on to the National scene in 2018 and was quick to impress selectors with her selection in the Australian team for the 2019 Virtus Global Games in Brisbane.  Unfortunately for Petrakis she had to withdraw due to ill health. A lack of international competitions since 2019 has deferred her debut for another 3 years.   Petrakis is coached by Craig Palfrey and is part of the Tennis SA National Development squad under Sandon Stolle.

Barker played his first National Championships in Melbourne in 2020 as a 14 year old, he too was quick to impress selectors being selected in National Junior Development Squads under Glen Hamilton and Alison Scott.   Barker had his best performance in 2021 winning the South Australian PWII Championships and in 2022 he reached the semi-finals of the Australian Tennis Championships.  Earlier this month Barker finished third in the Queensland Tennis Championships behind team members Archie Graham (Qld) and Mitchell James (Qld).

Australia will send a team of 8 players to the Championships which will be their first opportunity to compete since the Virtus Global Games in Brisbane in 2019.

Petrakis will join Kelly Wren (NSW) and Breanna Tunny (Qld) in the women’s II-1 singles with Barker  teaming with Archie Graham (QLD), Mitchell James (QLD), Tim Gould (QLD) and Damian Phillips (NSW) will join Barker in the men’s competition.

Tennis Australia announced the team at the recent Tennis ACT PWII Championships in Canberra where the players obtained some valuable match practice on clay to prepare for the Polish clay courts.

Australia has been the dominant country in tennis for many years with Kelly Wren and Archie Graham both former World Champions and World number 1 ranked players.  Both Wren and Graham are in outstanding form at the moment and looking forward to the Games and an opportunity to regain their Number 1 rankings.

All players have been fortunate to have strong regular competition here in Australia, after almost 3 years with no International competition coaches are keen to see how the team competes against their international rivals.  “We have been able to keep an eye on our team and how they are playing so we can’t wait to see how that equates on the international stage after a long absence, and in particular looking forward to seeing the younger players Petrakis and Barker establish themselves on the international stage.” Said National Coach Alison Scott

Victoria’s Carla Lenarduzzi was also selected in the team but unfortunately for Lenarduzzi she has had to withdraw due to Covid-19 infection.

“It is wonderful to see the improvement in the younger players Tunny and Petrakis who are taking on and challenging Wren and Lenarduzzi who have been dominant players in Australian tennis for many years.” Said Scott.

Graham is arguably in the best form of his life fresh from the QLD and ACT Championships and two Tier 2 tournament wins in Toowoomba and Beenleigh.  Great Britain’s Dominic Ianotti defeated Graham in Brisbane in 2019 and has taken the title as World number 1, a title Graham is keen to regain.  “It’s been three years since I have had a chance to play internationally, I am feeling really good right now so I can’t wait to play in Poland.” Graham said.

In addition to the singles competition players will also contest doubles and mixed doubles.

The 2022 Virtus European Championships will be held in Krakow Poland from 16-24 July.  Australia will host the Virtus Oceania Asia Games in Brisbane from 5-11 November.

 

Australian Team

 

Men                                                         Women

II-1 Singles                                            II-1 Singles

Archie Graham (Qld)                         Kelly Wren (NSW)

Mitchell James (Qld)                         Breanna Tunny (QLD)

Luke Barker (Qld) debut                   Andriana Petrakis (SA) Debut

Damian Phillips (NSW)                     Carla Lenarduzzi (VIC) Withdrawn due to Covid

II-2 Singles
Tim Gould (Qld)

Head Coach       Alison Scott (QLD)
Manager            Jay Schuback (VIC)
Asst Coach        Steve Manley (NSW)

 

Contact:          

Andriana Petrakis competing at the Tennis ACT Open

 

Luke Barker in action at Queensland Open

Bronte Marshall – Rowing for Gold

With her eyes fixed on representing Australia at the 2019 Virtus Global Games in Brisbane NSW’s Bronte Marshall knew she had to make a choice –  does she continue with swimming or does she focus on Rowing?

It wasn’t an easy decision for the young athlete who took up swimming competitively at 12 years of age and had recently represented Australia at the Virtus Swimming World Championships in Mexico winning a Gold, Silver and Bronze medal.

“I wanted to represent Australia again and after looking at all of the swimmers in my events and the opportunities to represent Australia in either Swimming or Rowing I knew I had a tough decision to make.” Marshall said.

Through her school years Marshall had trained and competed in swimming and rowing, with swimming having been the focus in recent years.  Marshall was however a strong rower competing in school regattas with Pymble Ladies College.  Both sports involve early morning starts and water, one in it and the other hopefully on top of it.  But it wasn’t the early starts or the cold water that concerned Marshall she just wanted to represent Australia again.

Thankfully for Rowing Australia Marshall chose Rowing and went on to represent Australia at the Virtus Global Games winning 4 Gold and one Silver medal in the on water and indoor rowing events.

Marshall who rows for the Balmain Rowing Club and is coached by Barbara Ramjan competed at her first National Rowing Regatta in 2019 collecting a Silver and Bronze medal.  Covid saw the 2020 Championships cancelled and in 2021 she collected 3 silver and a bronze medal.

With events being restricted due to covid, Marshall focussed on her indoor rowing,  setting a Concept 2 Indoor Rowing World Record for the PR3 ID 2000m in 2021.  Earlier this year Marshall took part in the 2022 World Rowing Virtual Indoor Championships.  The Championships were held live around the world.  For Marshall this meant racing in the evening,  not an ideal time for peak performance.

“It was weird as I felt I should be heading to bed for the night but instead I am taking part in a virtual World Championships” Marshall said.

Marshall couldn’t see her competitors but with the wonders of technology was able to watch each competitors progress on the racing graph.  Marshall was successful in her first Indoor World Championship winning the 500m and 2000m events and taking 2 seconds off her own Concept 2 19-29 World record for the 2000m race.

Marshall has had to switch back to on water racing with the 2022 Australian Rowing Championships to be held at Lake Nagambie next week.  The Championships were due to be held at the 2000 Olympic and Paralympic venue in Penrith, but as a result of flood damage to the venue the Championships have been moved to Victoria.

Marshall’s decision has paid big dividends for the young rower from Drummoyne who has gone on to medal on multiple occasions at Virtus Global Games, National Rowing Championships and more recently the 2022 World Rowing Virtual indoor Championships.  She has a bright future ahead of her and in the next 2 years has her eyes set on the 2022 Virtus Oceania Asia Games in Brisbane, and in 2023 The World Rowing Indoor Championships in Canada along with the Virtus Global Games in France.

For now the focus is representing Balmain Rowing Club at the Australian Rowing Championships at Lake Nagambie in Victoria from 28 March to 3 April.

For more information on the Australian Rowing Championships visit : Home – Australian Rowing Championships (rowingaustralia.com.au)

 

Contact
Sport Inclusion Australia 0414 733 339 or sport@siasport.org

 

 

 

Australia Day honours list awards the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) to Robyn Smith for service to people with a disability through sport

The Chief Executive Officer of Sport Inclusion Australia for over 30 years Robyn Smith has dedicated her life to improving the lives of people with a disability.

“It is a privilege to be recognised and receive this award for a role that I cherish. I am just as passionate today as I was in 1991 when I started with Sport Inclusion Australia to represent and advocate for social inclusion of people with a disability using sport as the medium. I am also extremely thankful to Marie Little OAM for providing me this opportunity and all Board members since who have supported me. I am humbled to accept his honour on behalf of the movement and all the athletes we represent who continue to inspire me on a daily basis.”   Smith said.

In 2007 Smith’s mentor, friend and founder of Sport Inclusion Australia Marie T Little OAM was also recognised. Smith was privileged to be invited by Little to attend her OAM Investiture ceremony, knowing she is sharing an honour also bestowed on Little will add significance to the honour for Smith.

Sport Inclusion Australia President Helen Croxford has worked closely with Smith since joining the Board in 2015 and has been amazed by her drive, passion and commitment.  Robyn has dedicated her career to ensuring that people with an impairment are heard and seen and have the opportunity to participate in sport at all levels. Her philosophy is and always will be “person first” and she has worked tirelessly with International,  National and State Sporting Organisations, all levels of Government and the wider community to advocate for more inclusive practices for the cohort she represents. Robyn was recently elected onto the International Paralympics Governing Board. A great individual achievement which will provide Robyn with a platform to continue advocating for people with an intellectual disability.” Croxford said.

Working with National and State Sporting Organisations Smith has been instrumental and has had a lead role in the establishment of pathways and opportunities for athletes with an intellectual disability.  Outside of the Paralympic pathway events such the Ivor Burge Basketball Championships, Australian Tennis Championships, Lord’s Taverners Indoor Cricket and Football Integration Development Association (FIDA) have been providing ongoing competition and pathways for athletes for more than 25 years.

Smith’s passion for improving the lives of others goes beyond her role with Sport Inclusion Australia and people with an intellectual impairment.  Smith started her working life as a teacher with a passion for teaching and enriching the lives of her students.  An elite Netballer in her day, Smith transitioned to coaching in 1990 and has tackled this with the same passion at club, regional and state level.  Robyn was acknowledged for her services to Netball with life membership at Benalla Saints Sports Club and the Goulburn Valley Netball League.

Peter Ryan OAM, President of FIDA recalls his first meeting with Smith in 1991, “I first met Robyn in 1991 working with the Hawthorn Football Club and City Council to develop a competition pathway for football players with an intellectual disability.  Robyn’s passion and commitment for inclusion and providing social inclusion pathways through sport was as strong then as it is now.”  From those early beginning the FIDA competition has grown to become the pinnacle football competition for players with an intellectual impairment in Australia with over 800 players and 3 leagues across Victoria.  In 2017 the competition expanded with the inclusion of a National event run by the AFL with teams from all states participating.

As Vice President of Virtus Smith has also worked tirelessly with her counterparts around the world making a difference to the lives of hundreds of athletes and growing the awareness and advocacy for elite pathways in sport.

Alongside the sports of Basketball, AFL, Tennis, Cricket and Indoor cricket, athletes now have opportunities to compete at local, state and National level in a wide ranges of sports, pathways that are sustained by the sporting organisations and contribute not only to the lives of people with a disability but also the sporting community who are also richer for their engagement.

In 2018 Smith took on the additional role as CEO of the Global Games Organising Committee.  The Games held in 2019 raised the profile of the athletes, showcased what they can achieve and opened doors.  The success of this event was largely due to Smith’s passion, belief and commitment which impacted on all who worked for her to deliver the Games.

Athletes have always been the focus of Robyn’s work, her “person first” philosophy and commitment to inclusion drives her every day.

In 2021, Smith was elected to the International Paralympic Committee Governing Board, a position that also provides her a seat on the 2032 Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games Organising Committee.  In addition to these commitments, Smith is also on the:

FIBA World Cup organising committee (present),
Virtus Governing Board, Vice President since 2015,
Chair of the Australian Sporting Alliance for People with a Disability (2021),
Coaching Netball at Benalla Saints Sports Club (1998-2022),
Driving force in the Benalla Walk 2 Dfeet MND committee which has raised over $500k from within the Benalla community towards MND research, and importantly
a mother to Dene, Georgia and Martine who not surprisingly share their mothers drive, passion and “person first’ philosophy.

On behalf of the Board of Sport Inclusion Australia and the thousands of athletes you represent and strive to provide a better world for, we congratulate you on your OAM and we are very proud of your achievements.

 

Contact:

  • Robyn Smith 0418 979 459,
  • Helen Croxford 0419 327 837

Gold Coast to host first Para Sailing World Championships in 2022

International Day of People with Disabilities 2021 is a fitting day to announce the inaugural Virtus Para Sailing World Championship to be held as part of the Official OAGames 2022 Sports Program, delivered by Sport Inclusion Australia in Queensland in November 2022.

The Championship is sanctioned by World Sailing and supported by Virtus World governing organisations  who formed a partnership in 2019 and made a commitment to work together to grow a sustainable future for sailors with intellectual impairments.

For the first time, athletes with intellectual impairment can compete in a sanctioned World Championship in the Hansa 303 Class. This is a World event and hopes to attract sailors from every continent. At a media launch on 3 December 2021, at the venue of next year’s World Championship, the Gold Coast waterways glisten under blue skies, and was a beautiful vision to see sailors on the Hansa 303 boats, cruising the waters with the help of a cool breeze.

A World Championship deserves a World Class athlete and sailor at the helm. The announcement was made by none other than Australia’s most decorate sailor, Matthew ‘Mat’ Belcher OAM, three-time Olympic Medallist and the 2021 Australian Male Sailor of the Year as awarded by Australian Sailing.

Mat Belcher has taken on the role of Para World Sailing Ambassador and, as he made the announcement today, shared why this role is not only about giving back to community and to sailing, but he also has a personal connection. Mat has a young daughter with Down Syndrome and understand firsthand the challenges people with disabilities may face. Mat, as the Ambassador, hope to raise the awareness for sailing across all abilities, and leverage on his Olympic success to foster a growth in para sailing and for athletes with intellectual impairment.

It was a successful day that forged the partnerships between Sport Inclusion Australia, Virtus, World Sailing, Para World Sailing, Southport Yacht Club and Sailability Gold Coast. The Virtus Oceania Asia Games 2022 is setting the pace for another successful Games delivered by Sport Inclusion Australia.

Ms Robyn Smith, CEO of SIA and the Oceania Asia Games Organising Committee would like to acknowledge all the stakeholders on board and look forward to making the Championship and the OAGames 2022 a successful blueprint toward Sport for Humanity.

“When all levels of the Australian Government signalled their support for Sport Inclusion Australia, to host the Virtus OAGames in Brisbane, it allowed planning on what sports could be included,” Ms Smith said

“When approached by World Sailing to conduct the Para Sailing World Championship as part of the OAGames Sports Program, we were delighted as it further drives our mission – inclusion for all.”

“When Champion athletes generously give their time and energy to promote and elevate the inclusion of para-athletes on the world stage, it encourages people to become involved.”

Key stakeholders from around the world also gave praise for this event and showed their support.

Quotes from partners

Matthew Belcher, OAM, Para World Sailing Ambassador
“It is a real honour to be the World Sailing Ambassador. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to sail and do something I love every day, and as Ambassador, I want to champion how sailing can be for people of all abilities. I am blessed to be part of the Southport Yacht Club sailing community, and to announce the first official World Championship conducted for Athletes with intellectual impairment, in my hometown and local club, is just priceless.”

World Sailing President, Mr. Quanhai Li
“I am pleased to announce that Southport Yacht Club on Queensland’s Gold Coast in Australia will host the Inaugural Para Sailing World Championship for Athletes with Intellectual Impairment in November 2022. On behalf of World Sailing, I would like to extend an invitation to sailors with intellectual impairment from around the world to compete in these inaugural Championships. The inaugural Championships will be held as part of the Virtus Oceania Asia Games 2022, enhancing the opportunity for our sailors to be part of a major multi-sport event. I would like to thank Virtus and the Oceania Asia Games organisers for including sailing as part of the overall Games program.”

Virtus President, Mr Marc Truffaut
“Welcoming World Sailing to the Virtus family, signals a message of collaboration to grow and create new sport opportunities for elite athletes. We are committed to growing sailing for athletes with intellectual impairments and know that together, we can offer more high-level competition opportunities and make a huge impact around the world.”

Southport Yacht Club, Commodore Ken Tregeagle
“Southport Yacht Club has had a long and proud history of sailing on the Gold Coast since 1946. Hosting this internationally recognised world championship is a great honour for Southport and to also have our Olympic Champion Mat Belcher, as an Ambassador is a proud achievement for Mat, and equally a proud moment, to see one of our local sailors excel so greatly in world sailing. We are also very proud in having partnered with Sailability since 1997 and together we provide such a wonderful service to our community. Our Gold Coast waterways are amongst the best water ways in the world and these World Championships will certainly showcase them to the entire world.”

 

Contact

Robyn Smith, CEO Sport Inclusion Australia 0418 979 459 or robyn.smith@sportinclusionaustralia.org.au

Celebrating International Day of People with a Disability

Sport Inclusion Australia acknowledges International Day of People with a Disability and acknowledges the theme for 2021 which is ‘Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world’.

With more than 4.4 million Australians living with a disability, today is an opportunity to focus on the work of those who strive to make a more inclusive, understanding and supportive society.

Sport plays an integral role in developing a more inclusive society, it can provide the platform to showcase ability and develop understanding.  As we move into a post-covid-19 world, sport can once again take leadership in this area helping athletes reconnect to their community and all the health benefits that come with it.  For many people living with a disability fear of Covid-19 has seen a decline in their physical and mental health as they isolate to stay safe and watch sporting event after sporting event be cancelled.  As vaccination rates increase and restrictions are removed we can now start to focus on getting back into sport and planning for events and re-engaging with the community.

Sport Inclusion Australia looks forward to watching the athletes back in action and applauds the sports that have worked hard throughout Covid to provide competition and support.  It is exciting to see events on the horizon and watching the athletes start to take centre stage again.

One athlete who has wasted no time getting back into action is South Australia’s Hugo Taheny.

In 2019 Hugo represented Australia at the 2019 Virtus Global Games in the new II-2 class winning a Gold medal in the Discus and Silver in the shot put.  In 2020 Athletics Australia also introduced the new class which provided a fairer competition for athletes with Down syndrome.  At the National Championships in April this year Hugo won his first National title the Open Men’s Ambulant Discus and a Silver the ambulant Shot put.

Like most athletes Hugo’s journey has been disrupted by Covid-19 with lockdowns, restrictions and earlier this year Hugo had an adverse reactions to his vaccinations resulting in trips to hospital.  Thankfully for Hugo he has recovered and his desire to get back into competition has helped him to focus away from Covid-19 and given him something to look forward to.  Hugo’s success in Athletics has been rapid and a result of hard work, good coaching (Thank you Steve Larsson) and great family and community support.

Hugo with Coach Steve Larsson and Western Athletics Club Vice President Debbie Meich

Hugo lives in regional South Australia, competition days start with a 4+ hour drive to Adelaide and finish with another 4+ hour drive home.  On the 6th of November 2021 that drive home was a lot more enjoyable than most.  Hugo started the day as Australia’s leading F21 Shot putter and Discus thrower, but by the end of the day Hugo had become the World’s best F21 Discus thrower having thrown the discus 31.33m.  Three weeks later he added the Australian and Oceania records for Shot put to his growing list of achievements.

Away from the track Hugo is a Down Syndrome Australia Health Ambassador.  As a Health Ambassador Hugo’s role is to increase public awareness and understanding of people with Down syndrome.

On a day that aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability and celebrate their achievements and contributions its hard to go past Hugo Taheny.  Hugo’s epitomises the theme for 2021 ‘Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world’.  

Congratulations Hugo and thank you to all who work to support athletes like Hugo across all sports and communities.

“Happy International Day of People with a Disability.”

Contacts

  • Robyn Smith, CEO Sport Inclusion Australia. 0418 979 459
  • Hugo Taheny, via Sport Inclusion Australia, sport@siasport.org or  0414 733 339

Virtus Oceania Asia Games 2022 one year to go

The inaugural Virtus Oceania Asia Games 2022 in Brisbane is just one year away and has received welcomed support from all levels of Australian government.

OAGames 2022 is the inaugural event in the Virtus Asia and Oceania region for athletes with intellectual impairment. The Games will invite 1000 plus athletes and officials from NZ, Asia, and Pacific to compete against Australia’s elite athletes.

Federal Minister for Sport, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck said Australia has an enviable reputation for its ability to hold world class international sporting events.

“It is time to get back into the pools, the field, the track and the arena and celebrate all that is inspiring about being a top athlete for your country,” Senator Colbeck said.

“The Australian Government has a deep commitment to ensure sport is accessible for people of all abilities and is pleased to support the hosting of the Virtus Oceania Asia Games 2022”.

The OAGames2022 will be in Brisbane, in a multi-sport event format from 5 to 12 November 2022.

Virtus Vice President, Robyn Smith; CEO of Sport Inclusion Australia (SIA), said that as an organisation with 35 years of inclusive sport experience, she is looking to reignite the successes from Global Games 2019 in Brisbane, with the experienced team to lead the delivery of this event in 2022.

“It is a follow-on legacy from Global Games 2019 and the Virtus Oceania Asia Games, #OAGames2022, will be a celebration of sport and cultural diversity,” Ms Smith said.

“There is much excitement about seeing athletes come back again, to represent their countries and compete for medals and achieve personal best performances.”

Premier and Minister for the Olympics Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Queensland Government is proud to support the Virtus Oceania Asia Games 2022.

“These Games are an opportunity to celebrate diversity and inclusion, which are valuable threads running through the fabric of Queensland’s communities,” said the Premier.

“Sport Inclusion Australia’s (SIA) hosting of the event sends a strong message that sport is for everyone.”

“Under the banner of ‘Leave No One Behind’, athletes with an intellectual disability train to a high level, hone their skills and compete with the same passion as any professional athlete.”

“Athletics, swimming and table tennis will be Paralympic pathway events – for athletes with the potential to win medals at Paralympic competitions.”

“Events will be staged at a range of venues across Brisbane including the Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre, Brisbane Aquatic Centre, Nissan Arena and Anna Meares Velodrome.”

“This is another opportunity for Queensland to host a major multi-sport event prior to the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Whilst the final sport program is being finalised these following sports will form part of the program: Athletics, Basketball, Cycling, Rowing, Swimming, Table Tennis and Tennis.

Additional Sports will be considered as a result of consultation with Virtus Nation Members and interested Pacific Nations in the coming months and next month another key announcement is planned for the incorporation of World Para-Sailing Championships as part of the OAGames 2022 Sport Program.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said Brisbane was the ideal city to play host to the Virtus Oceania Asia Games, with an excellent year-round climate as well as friendly and inclusive residents.

“Brisbane already has a reputation for being an amazing place to visit and host major events because of our great hotels, cafes and restaurants and experiences along with world-class facilities” Cr Schrinner said.

“I look forward to welcoming athletes, coaches, officials, families and friends, as we celebrate the Virtus Oceania Asia Games in Brisbane in November next year.

“We look forward to working in partnership with Sport Inclusion Australia, Virtus and the International Paralympic Committee to bring other events for athletes with impairment to Brisbane over the next decade as we continue our journey towards the 2032 Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Virtus Oceania Asia Games 2022 invites governments, sporting organisation and corporate partners who believe in this vision to be part of this movement. A movement of Sport for Humanity and a great way start the journey to 2032.

Key statistics:

  • 2-3% of the world population live with an intellectual impairment.
  • 178-256 MILLION is the estimated number of people with an intellectual impairment in the world.
    *Source: WHO Report on Disability 2011
  • It is the largest impairment group. For most it is a non-visible impairment.
  • Sport provides connection to community and provides meaning and purpose. Active engagement in Sport has a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the individual and supports our commitment to advancing many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

 

For more information visit oagames2022.org and follow @virtus.sport | @SportIncAus to stay updated on #OAGames2022

2032 Brisbane Games offers great opportunities for people with a disability

The Australian Sporting Alliance for People with a Disability (ASAPD) has welcomed the historic announcement overnight by the International Olympic Committee that Brisbane, South East Queensland has been awarded the hosting rights of the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

ASAPD Chair Robyn Smith said “Many of us were there to witness the powerful impact of the landmark Sydney 2000 Paralympics and the legacy opportunities for people with a disability in sport which continue to this day.

“The event captured the attention and admiration of the Australian public and inspired a generation of people to get involved with sport for people with a disability and helped to change perceptions about what people with disability, impairment or limitation can achieve. It also set new standards in areas such as ticketing, sponsorship, media and transport.

“An 11-year runway into the Brisbane 2032 Paralympic Games provides a great opportunity to showcase sport for people with a disability and help set new standards for inclusion, accessibility and equality,” she said.

The Alliance congratulates all of the parties involved who have worked so hard to put forward such a strong, and ultimately successful, bid to the IOC. We look forward to working with Paralympics Australia, Australian Olympic Committee, Federal Government, Queensland Government, Brisbane City Council and the other local governments in South East Queensland, in helping to achieve positive outcomes for people with a disability in the lead-up to the Games and in the post-Games legacy activities.

ASAPD Deputy Chair Phil Harper said “We believe participation in sport provides positive social and physical benefits to people with a disability, and plays an important role in changing community perceptions, stereotypes and biases around disability.

“The Paralympics and other major disability sporting events can leave a tremendous sporting legacy. But what makes them unique is these events can have positive social and participatory outcomes directly for those with a disability, as well as on broader community perceptions. We look forward to working with the Games partners to make this legacy effective and lasting.”

Since 2019, the nine members of the ASAPD have been collectively creating opportunities in sport and physical activity for people with a disability. This announcement will provide excitement and impetus for our organisations and members to continue our work to create greater awareness among people with a disability to participate in sport and physical activity; and influence governments and Australian sporting organisations to better provide for access and participation in their sport so they are welcoming and inclusive environments for all.

NOTE: The ASAPD represents nine national disability sport organisation’s (NSOD’s) as the key peak agency for sport and physical activity for people with a disability. The NSOD’s involved represent lead organisations whose participant numbers, members and volunteers involve millions of people across Australia and include: Blind Sports Australia, Deaf Sports Australia, Disability Sports Australia, Disabled Wintersports Australia, Paralympics Australia, Riding for the Disabled Association Australia, Special Olympics Australia, Sport Inclusion Australia & Transplant Australia.

 

Contact:

ASAPD Chair
Robyn Smith
robyn.smith@siasport.org
+61 (0) 418 979 459

Sport Inclusion Australia Launches ‘LEAVE NO-ONE BEHIND’ Project

Sport Inclusion Australia (SIA) is proud to launch the “Leave No One Behind” project – a bilateral program  funded by the Australia-Japan Foundation (AJF) and the Australian Government.

Leave No One Behind (Dare mo okizari ni shinai), is a one-year project in collaboration with All Nippon Intellectual Disability Sports Association (ANISA).  The collaboration will see SIA and ANISA co-design a program to ensure that  targeted participants with an intellectual impairment have access to sport opportunities in Japan, Australia and Internationally.

SIA and ANISA have a strong relationship and a common focus of enabling sport as a pathway for athletes with intellectual impairment. SIA will leverage its years of experience and extensive knowledge in inclusive sport, to develop resources to assist people in Japan,  specifically people who are currently marginalised and not able to access sporting opportunities.

Some of the work already underway, includes educational resources to help build the capacity of administrators, teachers, coaches, and psychologists, to assist people with an intellectual impairment  access and participate in sport.

Ms Robyn Smith, CEO of Sport Inclusion Australia said, with the support of the Australia-Japan Foundation, Japanese and Australian governments and ANISA, the work SIA has been delivering for 35 years, can transcend to Asia and Oceania based nations fostering a stronger and more unified community of organisations advocating for inclusive sport.

Japan Women Basketball team, Gold Medallists, Global Games 2019, Brisbane

“We’ve never wavered from our philosophy of promoting sporting opportunities for people with an impairment in mainstream settings, with sport owning and delivering sport for all Australians at the appropriate ability level with a ‘person first’ approach”, Ms Smith said.
“We are proud of our Australian legacy in inclusive sport, and I am especially excited to share our expertise with Japan and maybe in the future more Asia Oceania neighbours.”

“Government support is critical to the success of projects like Leave No One Behind that benefits sport and people with intellectual impairment to enhance economic, social and health benefits for Australia and Japan.”

The Leave No One Behind project, whilst having a foundation in sport, has at its core, the importance of inclusion and access to sporting pathways as a human right for all global citizens because it is aimed equally at men and women with an intellectual impairment, so it is totally inclusive and diverse by design.

Mr Toshiyuki Saito from ANISA said the benefits of this project which dedicates a focus on sport and ability will help to build awareness of how sport can change the life of a person with an intellectual impairment.

“Sport plays a critical role in ensuring health and wellbeing, making individuals feel valued and have a meaningful place in the community.” Mr Saito said.

In November 2022, SIA are hosting the inaugural Virtus Oceania Asia Games in Brisbane.  It is hoped the collaboration on this project, and the relationship grown between Australia and Japan will strengthen competition between the two countries as well as building understanding.

For more information contact
Robyn Smith, CEO, Sport Inclusion Australia
robyn.smith@siasport.org
0418 979 459

About Sport Inclusion Australia (SIA)
Sport Inclusion Australia, formerly AUSRAPID, is a national sporting organisation established in 1986 to assist the inclusion of people with an intellectual impairment into the mainstream community using sport as the medium. Sport Inclusion Australia has worked within the Australian sporting sector with outstanding success and is proud of the increasing numbers of sporting organisations and clubs taking responsibility for inclusion with the focus on ability and based on social inclusion principles. https://sportinclusionaustralia.org.au

About All Nippon Intellectual Disability Sport Association (ANISA)
ANiSA aims to communicate and coordinate with sports organizations and related organizations for children and persons with intellectual disabilities in Japan, and to promote and promote exercise and sports for children and persons with intellectual disabilities.
ANiSA creates an environment for improving competitiveness, collecting and disseminating various information related to domestic and overseas athletic sports, training leaders, holding seminars and workshops, athletes and officers at international competitions. ANiSA was established for the purpose of promoting and developing appropriate programs and research for people with severe or multiple disabilities. https://anisa.or.jp