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Telaya Blacksmith – Paralympian

At 14 she was selected to represent Australia at the 2022 Virtus Oceania Asia Games in Brisbane, at 15 she represented Australia again at the 2023 Virtus Global Games in Vichy, France and now at the young age of 16, Telaya Blacksmith will become a Paralympian when she competes at the 2024 Paris Paralympics in the sport of athletics.

Telaya was so excited to receive the phone call almost two weeks ago to say she’d been selected to represent Australia.

“To think that I’ll be at school one day and the next on a plane to compete on the biggest stage across the other side of the world is hard to get my head around it.” Telaya said.

Telaya’s coaches (Jacinta Doyle and Anula Costa) have been training her knowing this was a possibility and now all those hard sessions will pay off.

A proud Walpiri woman from the Northern Territory, Telaya now lives in Sydney where she attends Endeavour High School, a sports focussed school with a proud history of developing Olympians and now Paralympians with Telaya being their first Paralympian.

Despite her young age Telaya has had the benefit of competing in two significant international events with Sport Inclusion Australia.  While she didn’t return from Vichy with the success she may have imagined she gained valuable experience travelling overseas and competing against the World’s best athletes.  “Vichy was a great experience and taught me a lot about what to do in between races and training. I feel much better about being away from home and how important food, sleep and all the other little things are to have me perform at my best.” Telaya said.

Telaya won’t be alone in Paris with coach Anula Costa and her family also travelling to be there to watch and support her.  Costa hopes to attend the pre games camp in Montpelier where she will be able to work with Telaya and Australian team coaches.  Mum (Bec), Dad (Ryan), 2 brothers (Carson and Sonny), sister (Tilly) along with Uncle Luke are also making the trip to France and hope to arrive before her first event.  Younger brother Sonny can’t leave until after his football Grand Final so someone will stay home with him and then get on the next flight out which is scheduled to arrive just 5 hours before his big sister’s first event.

Telaya travelled to the Northern Territory over Christmas and New Year and talked to her extended family about the possibility of her going to the Paralympics.  “When I told my family I might be going to the Paralympics they were so proud.  Now that it has been announced  I can tell them that I am going to be a Paralympian, I will be the first person of Warlpiri descent to compete at the Paralympics, it’s a big deal for all my family in the NT. Lots of my cousins, nieces and nephews look up to me and that is something that will be pushing me when I race and the legs start to burn in that last 100m” Telaya said.

Telaya grew up with Cathy Freeman as her idol, as the first person of Walpiri descent to compete at the Paralympics, she may very well become an idol herself to many young athletes.

Over the past 3 years Telaya has steadily grown as an athlete winning medals at National Championships and the Virtus Oceania Asia Games, importantly she has continued to improve her times and distances each year.  She currently holds the Australian under 15, under 17 and under 20 T20 records in the 100m, 200m and long jump, in her Paralympic event the 400m she holds the under 17, under 20 and open T20 records.  The previous open T20 400m record was set 8 years before Telaya was born.   Telaya will face stiff opposition in Paris, she is focussed on making the final of her two events and doing her best.  In the 400m she will be up against the former and current world record holders, Breanna Clark (USA) and  Deepthi Jeevanji (India).  Whatever the Paralympics bring, Telaya is an athlete we should expect to see a lot more of in the years ahead.

A talented sportsperson Telaya also plays football with her local club the Miranda Bombers and is in the Sydney Swans AFL academy, thankfully Telaya has decided that she will just run water for the remaining games as she needs to focus on the Paralympics.

Telaya recently spent a week in Geelong with coach Anula during the school holidays.  Now back in Sydney, training with Jacinta and back to school next week where she will have some exciting news for her classmates and teachers.

The Athletics team will depart Australia on the 16th of August headed for Montpellier where they will go into camp before arriving in the Paralympic village in Paris.

Telaya’s Paralympic schedule is:  400m heats (2 Sep), 400m Final (3 Sep) and possibly Long Jump Final (6 Sep).

Jack Ireland – Anything Is Possible

Photo Credit: Swimming Australia

Jack Ireland has been swimming most of his life, he has competed at Virtus Global Games, Commonwealth Games and World Para Swimming World Championships and this year he will become a Paralympian.

Jack’s swimming journey started in primary school in Newcastle competing in school events and over the years progressed to national Championships, both at School and Swimming Australia multi class events.  In 2013 he moved to Gladstone where he swam with the Gladstone Gladiators. As Jack’s times improved he was identified by Australian coach Herbie Howard and soon qualified for his first National team the 2015 Virtus Global Games in Ecuador.  At 16, he made his first national team travelling to Ecuador where he swam the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle events and the 400m and 200m freestyle relays collecting a Silver medal in the 200m relay.

The following year his family moved from Gladstone to Brisbane where he joined the University of Queensland Swim Club and met his current coach David Heyden. It was about this time that Jack started to take his swimming seriously, he competed at Age Nationals and the 2016 Rio Paralympic trials.

In 2017, Jack was selected as a member of the Australian Dolphins and toured the USA competing in his first World Para Series. In 2018, he was selected again in the Australian Dolphins team to compete at the Para Pan Pacs in Cairns.

2019  was a breakout year for Jack competing at the Virtus Global Games in Brisbane with his coach David Heyden by his side. And then the World Para Swimming Championships in London.  But just as his swimming career was taking off the World was hit with the Covid pandemic closing swimming pools all around the world and stopping competition.  It was a tough time for all athletes and particularly Jack, he managed to focus on his fitness and was able to get some valuable time in the water with open water swims off the Sunshine coast.

In 2021, Jack was keen to trial for the Paralympics, his two events were the 200m Freestyle and potentially the 4 x 100m mixed relay.  As the trials approached Jack had started to feel more and more confident that he had a chance, unfortunately he finished 3rd in the 200m freestyle and 2nd S14 swimmer in the 100m freestyle missing selection.  It was a tough time for Jack he had worked hard and had set his sights on paralympic selection.

Photo Credit: Swimming Australia

The following year things started to turn around, he had outstanding results at Nationals and was selected for the 2022 World Para swimming Championships in Madeira, Portugal and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. He finished 4th in Madeira in his 200m freestyle just behind fellow Australian Ben Hance.   Just prior to his departure for Birmingham Jack swam in a short course meet in Australia and over 3 days he smashed the Virtus World short course records for the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle events.  Accordingly he went into the Games full of confidence and returned with another Bronze medal in his main event the 200m freestyle.

“The Commonwealth Games was a great experience, we didn’t swim till the last day, but it was wonderful being in the team and supporting and being supported by all swimmers” Ireland said.

Returning to Australia he took a short break and then along with his coach David Heyden started to plan for the 2023 World Para swimming Championships in Manchester. Jack swam well in Manchester collecting another Bronze medal and continued to lower his time.  Jack also collected a Silver as a member of the mixed relay team.

It was around this time that Jack began to believe “That anything was Possible”.

2024 has been an amazing year for Jack, setting a personal best of 1:53.  At nationals and then swimming well under the qualifying time for the 200m freestyle event at the Paralympic trials.  The disappointment of 2021 was well behind him, but he still had a nervous wait despite his 2 qualifying swims.  “I swam the 200m freestyle on Day 1, and even though I was well under the qualifying time I had to wait till the last night when they finally select the team, so I was a bit anxious.” Jack said.

That last night alongside all other swimmers Jack waited patiently and anxiously for the text message that invites him into the room where the swimmers were told they were going to Paris and shortly afterwards he emerged in uniform proudly holding his boarding pass as a member of the 2024 Australian paralympic team.

Jack knows his competitors well and knows it will be a tough swim but with his coach David Heyden alongside him he is confident he will be in top form, and as he now believes “Anything is Possible.

The Australian swim team will leave Australia for Paris on the 12th of August bound for Chartres where they will go into camp before heading to the Paralympic village in Paris.  Chartres is a familiar location for the swimmers who have attended staging camps there in previous years.

Before the Games begin Jack will celebrate his 25th Birthday with his team mates in the Paralympic village.  While his family will have to wait to celebrate his birthday with him, Jack will have a big family entourage (Mum, Dad, Aunties, Nan and a cousin) watching every swim and yelling encouragement from the grandstands.

Jack recently acknowledged Daniel Fox as his source of inspiration.  “My inspiration comes from Daniel Fox.  Foxy inspired me at the Rio Games and he was a mentor to me.  I hope that I could one day be like Foxy.” Jack said.

Jack is well on his way to being like “Foxy”, he is now a Paralympian and he is Australia’s fastest ever S14 200m freestyle swimmer.

Jack will swim his 200m freestyle heat and final on the 31st of August.

Annabelle Colman – Paralympian

Selection in the Australian Paralympic team is a dream come true for Melbourne’s Annabelle Colman.  She started running, a sport she shares with her father Alan when she was 15 years old.  Just 5 years later she has been selected for her first Paralympics.

Running cross country at school, Colman competed in the Australian Cross Country Championships in 2019 and then soon ventured to the Track where she achieved success setting Australian under age records and winning medals at National under age events.

After winning the Australian under 20 Para 1500m title in 2022 Colman’s coaches Anthony de Castella and Liz Gosper raised the possibility of becoming a Paralympian setting a goal that they have since worked towards.

Later that year Colman represented Australia at the Virtus Global Games in  Brisbane winning Gold in the 800m and 1500m events.

2023 saw Colman win her first National Open title for the 1500m and as a result gained selection in the Australian team for the 2023  World Para Athletics Championships in Paris.  The trip to Paris was a valuable lesson for the young athlete, her first overseas competition and her first competition against World record holder Barbara Bieganowska from Poland.  The Australian team based themselves in Montpelier heading into the Championships, something they will do again this year leading into the Paralympics.

Annabelle Colman competing at the 2022 Virtus Global Games in Brisbane.

Colman learnt some valuable lessons in 2023 which she will take with her as she prepares for her first Paralympics.  “I struggled with my diet when I was in Paris last year, so this year I will focus on my diet eating more protein and getting my pre-race meal right to ensure I am in the best condition for my race.” Colman said.

Colman’s focus in Paris isn’t on medals and placings but to run her best. “My goal in Paris is to run sub 4:40, to finish strong and run as fast as I can” Colman said.

Based on her current world ranking (3) a sub 4:40 time for Colman will have her in the hunt for a medal.

Colman has achieved so much in a short time , she is only the second Australian T20 female athlete to run sub 5:00 minutes for the 1500m, a feat she has now achieved on more than 20 occasions and more importantly she has achieved the Paralympic “B” qualifying time of sub 4:50.00 on 10 occasions with her fastest time being 4:40.58.

Colman is the current Australian record holder for the T20 Womens 1500m, a record previously held by Victoria’s Patricia Flavel (nee Whitaker).  Flavel competed for Australia at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney where she finished third in the T20 women’s 800m, a race won by Poland’s Barbara Bieganowska (nee Niewiedzial).   With World record holder Bieganowska in the field in Paris,  Colman will be assured of a fast pace and some tough competition.

Colman will depart Australia on the 16th of August headed for Montpelier where she will go into camp with the Australian team and then head to Paris and the Paralympic Village.  Colman will be joined in Montpelier by her coach Anthony de Castella, with Mum (Meagan), Dad (Alan), Sister (Olivia), Grandparents and coach Liz Gosper making the trip to support her in Paris.

Back home in Australia Colman will have a lot of support from her athletics club  Old Xaverians, Inclusive Sports Training squad and Rossbourne School.

Colman’s dream will come true on Friday 6 September when she races the Women’s T20 1500m.

Australian Skiers Arrive in Zakopane for the Virtus Skiing World Championships

Sport Inclusion Australia would like to congratulate the team of seven skiers who have arrived in Zakopane, Poland this week to represent Australia at the Virtus Skiing World Championships from 2 to 8 March.

Laura Flynn

The team of seven skiers and 2 staff members is the largest Australian team to attend the Virtus Skiing World Championships, our previous largest team consisted of just 2 skiers.

Skiers will compete in Giant Slalom, Slalom and Super G events as well as the team parallel slalom event.  There will also be Nordic events, but Australia has no Nordic skiers competing at this event.

Alex Cherny and Laura Flynn have returned for their second Virtus World Championship having competed in Seefeld, Austria in 2023.

Flynn finished just outside of the medals in 4th place in the Super G event last year and is hoping to do better this year by finishing in the medals.  “I was very nervous last year as I knew it would be much more challenging than what we ski here in Australia”   Flyyn said.  With the experience from Seefeld behind her and a valuable weeks training at Whistler in Canada, Flynn will return a more confident and capable skier.

Alex Cherny

Cherny also returns with an increased confidence having skied last year but also having 2 weeks intensive training in Europe at Bad Kleinkirchheim where he was also able to compete in a FIS Para event.  Thanks to assistance from local contacts Cherny was able to enter the event gaining valuable experience and confidence having finished with a Bronze medal.

“I will be working hard to increase start gate push off and following the best line down the course. I will be going for Gold, but know the competition is very high.” Said Cherny.

After a successful competition in 2023, Cherny, Flynn and Sport Inclusion Australia were keen to promote the sport to a wider audience with an aim to return in 2024 with a much larger team.  Domestic competition opportunities for school aged athletes with disabilities, including physical, visual and cognitive disabilities, is provided through the Snow Australia Interschool Competitions and the Multi-Class events.  All of the 2024 Virtus team members have come through the Victorian multiclass program and competed at The Australian Multiclass Championships, a testimony to the programs success, and the level of athletes competing at these events.

Sport Inclusion Australia’s CEO Robyn Smith is committed to developing the sport nationally and Internationally. “Australia has not competed at these championships for 10 years, we were very excited to see Alex and Laura compete last year and to see the impact of their participation growing the sport is wonderful,  Having such a large team compete, helps support Virtus’ bid to build the sport in both Alpine and Nordic” Smith said.

Two skiers have been there from the beginning in 2013.  Evie Patterson and India Biesse-Fitton are making their debut for Australia on skis, but both are experienced travellers and competitors.  Patterson having represented Australia at Basketball collecting Gold Silver and Bronze medals and Biesse Fitton also represented Australia in Swimming and Triathlon.  Patterson follows in the footsteps of Australia’s only medallist in skiing Nicole Harris.  In 2012 Harris played Basketball for NSW at the Ivor Burge Championships before heading to Turkiye for the Virtus Skiing World Championships where she won 3 Gold medals.  Patterson played for her home state of Victoria earlier this month taking home a Gold medal. Later this year Biesse-Fitton will compete at the Triathlon World Championships in Townsville, Qld.

Samantha Li is the youngest member of the team at 17, she has been skiing since she was 10 and like all others it is a family activity each year.  Li is currently in the United states preparing for the Championships.

Millie Warbrick now lives on the Gold Coast an interesting location if you want to Snow ski, prior to her move to the Gold Coast Mille had grown up on the ski fields in Victoria, Japan and New Zealand.  Warbrick also suffers from Tuberous Sclerosis and is keen to show others with the condition that anything is possible.

Charlie Jones will compete in the II-3 category for skiers with Autism, it will be his first time overseas and Australia’s first skier with autism to compete in these Championships.

Snow Australia’s Para Pathway Development Coach and Talent ID Coordinator Tom Hodges will take the team away as head coach.   This will be Hodges’ first time with the athletes at a Virtus event.  “Snow Australia is excited to be supporting this team of talented athletes at the upcoming Virtus Games. Their inclusion in the sport of Alpine ski racing is a testament to their dedication and determination. I am honoured to guide them on this journey, and I am confident that they will showcase their skills and inspire others on to the world stage.” Hodges said.

All skiers are a little bit apprehensive, especially the debutants, but at the same time they can’t wait to get to Zakopane to come together as a team and compete.

The Championship Opening ceremony will take place on the 3rd of March with racing to start on the 4th with the Giant Slalom (GS) first up.

Media Contact;
Michael Thomson
+61 414 733 339

Australian Alpine Ski team announcement

Sport Inclusion Australia is pleased to announce the selection of the Australian Alpine Ski team to contest the Virtus Alpine Skiing World Championships in Zakopane, Poland from 2-8 March 2024.

The team of seven skiers is the largest Australian team to contest the Virtus Skiing World Championships.

“We are very excited to announce the Australian team to compete in Zakopane next year.  Working closely with Multiclass Sports Association, Disabled Winter Sport and Snow Australia has enabled us to select a team of seven skiers, our largest team yet.” said Sport Inclusion Australia CEO Robyn Smith.

Laura Flynn and Alex Cherny competed at the 2023 Virtus Skiing World Championships in Seefeld Austria and have been selected for their second Australian team alongside Evie Patterson, India Biesse-Fitton, Millie Warbrick, Samantha Li and Charlie Jones who are all making their debut.

“Multiclass Sports Association has been conducting Skiing events for skiers with an intellectual disability since 2013 and we are excited and proud to see skiers who have been competing in our events over the years selected to represent Australia at the Virtus Skiing World Championships” said Helen Hatherly, President Multiclass Sports Association.

“It was an honour to represent Australia in Seefeld earlier this year, the competition and courses were amazing.  It was a wonderful experience that has inspired me to work harder and do better this year.” Said Laura Flynn.

Australia first competed at the Virtus Skiing World Championships in 2009 in Italy with Nicole Harris winning Gold in the Downhill and Silver in the Giant Slalom.  Harris returned in 2011 and 2012 winning a further 4 Gold and 2 Silver medals.

Olivia Sayers also competed in 2012, but it was more than 10 years till Cherny and Flynn competed in Austria that we saw an Australian team back in action.

It won’t be just the tougher and longer races that will challenge the Australian skiers.  They will be competing out of season to their European competitors.  Having not skied since August the team will travel to Europe early to get some much needed practice leading into the Championships.

Sport Inclusion Australia has established a Go Fund Me page to help raise funds to enable the athletes to travel to Europe, prepare for the Championships and compete to the best of their ability.  If you would like to help the team please visit: https://www.mycause.com.au/page/329545/supporting-australian-skiers-to-virtus-skiing-championships-poland-2024


2024 Virtus Skiing World Championships
Zakopane, Poland 2-8 March

India Biesse-Fitton (Vic)
Alex Cherny (Vic)
Laura Flynn (Vic)
Charlie Jones (Vic)
Samantha Li (Vic)
Evie Patterson (Vic)
Millie Warbrick (Qld)

Tom Hodges (ACT) Head Coach
Chantel Lewis (Qld) Manager

Sport Inclusion Australia name Australian team for the Virtus Global Games


Sport Inclusion Australia has today announced the Australian team for the 2023 Virtus Global Games in France.  A total of 121 athletes are expected to represent Australia across 10 sports at the Games in Vichy France from 4 to 10 June 2023.

“We are very pleased to see so many athletes qualify for the Games following on from the very successfulOceania Asia Games held in Brisbane in November 2022” said Sport Inclusion Australia President Helen Croxford.

The Virtus Global Games will welcome over 1000 athletes from over 50 countries with Australia’s team expected to be the second largest behind host country France.  Australia has a proud record at the Games finishing on top of the medal table at all Global Games except the 1st in Bollnas Sweden in 2004 where they finished second.  With such a large team travelling to France, officials are hopeful of maintaining their position on top of the ladder.

Australia is leading the way with participation of women with 47 women across 8 sports.   Athletics is the largest component of the Australian team with 30 athletes, followed by swimming with 24 and Basketball 22.

Seven of the ten sports (Athletics, Cycling, Judo, Taekwondo, Table tennis, Tennis and Swimming) have all confirmed their selections.  Basketball, Futsal and Equestrian are expected to confirm selections in the coming weeks.

The 2023 Virtus Global Games will also see the inclusion of athletes in the II-3 (Autism) group competing with full medal status following Virtus’s announcement of the finalised eligibility criteria earlier this year.  Australia will field athletes in all three groups II-1 (intellectual disability), II-2 (intellectual disability with significant other impairment) and II-3 (autism).

Equestrian will make its debut at the Games.  In recent years Australian athletes have been able to compete internationally in virtual competitions.  Riders will have the added challenge of riding new horses supplied by the local organising committee with just three days to adjust.

“Striving to increase the number of elite Australian athletes competing at the Global Games is an on-going partnership with the National Sporting Organisations, who continue to work with SIA to grow the sport, and for more athletes to have access to more competition, thereby increasing our capacity to bring a strong team of elite athletes to the Global Games in Vichy,” said Robyn Smith OAM, Head of Delegation.

“The Australian team is leading the way with athletes competing in 10 out of the 13 sports on offer and with competing athletes in all three eligibility groups – we will be working to defend our championship from Global Games 2019 and bring home the first II-3 medals in a Virtus Global Games event.”

Ms Smith also said the Australian team is a team of champions and are fundraising to ensure every athletes is supported to their needs. Donations can be made via My Cause, search “GG2023” or click this link: https://www.mycause.com.au/page/306721/going-for-gold-and-glory-at-gg2023

The team may feature three pairs of siblings with Victoria’s Montana and Jamieson Whiteley already named in the Cycling team.  ACT’s Brittany and Taylor Anderson and South Australia’s Keenan and Zachary Georg-Dent have been selected in squads for Basketball.

New South Wales will provide the majority of athletes with 36, closely followed by Victoria with 33 and Queensland with 25.  All states and territories except for NT will be represented.

New South Wales athlete Kelly Wren (Tennis) will contest her 6th Global Games having competed in all Games (Sweden 2004, Czech Republic 2009, Italy 2013, Ecuador 2015, Brisbane 2019 and now France 2023).  Wren will be the oldest Australian competitor at the Games and has also represented Australia in Basketball.

Australia Representatives

Athletics: Aaron Houston (NSW), Amelia Mazzei (NSW), Annabelle Rodgers (NSW), Belinda Slatter (QLD), Blake Carr (NSW), Ebonie Cooper (QLD), Eliesha Byrt (VIC), Ethan Parry (QLD), Georgia Powning (VIC), Hugo Taheny (SA), Jack Connors (NSW), Kyle McIntosh (NSW), Liam Griffett (VIC), Lillee Wakefield (SA), Lindsey Hendy (QLD),  Lleyton Lloyd (NSW), Malachi Canning (NSW), Rebecca Mathers (TAS), Riley Mann (QLD), Sam LeFeuvre (QLD), Sammy Muamba (NSW), Stephanie Schweitzer (NSW), Telaya Blacksmith (NSW), Timon Sideris (SA), Timothy D’Abrera (ACT), Phoebe Mitchell (VIC), Kobi-Lee Dyer (VIC).

Basketball Women: Brittany Anderson (ACT), Taylor Anderson (ACT), Jasmin Funnell (ACT), Montana  Haag (VIC), Madilyn Janssen (ACT), Jessica McCulloch (VIC), Evangeline Patterson (VIC), Louwanna Sheridan (ACT), Mackenzie Wills (NSW), Mia Wilson (VIC)

Basketball Men: Brayden  Cowell (TAS), Frazer  Dawber (VIC), Jake  De La Motte (VIC), Keenan  Georg-Dent (SA), Zachary Georg-Dent (SA), Jack Innella (VIC), Jack Gilbertson (NSW), Brad  Kinross (SA), Justin  Koenig (ACT), James Myers (VIC), Matthew Farrar (VIC), James Doyle (NSW)

Cycling*: Andre Ascui (VIC), Nathan Glarvey (QLD), Cameron Marshall (VIC), Jamieson Whiteley (VIC), Montana Whitley (VIC), Georgia Powning (VIC), Molly Thatcher (VIC), Harry Mezger (VIC), Oliver Hutchison (QLD)

Equestrian: Andrew Driffield (NSW), Sarah Sherwood (QLD) Sui Watts (NSW)

Futsal (Squad): Andrew Hoatson (ACT), Joshua Long (QLD), Samuel Mills (SA), Rocco Muemeci (NSW), Samson Samason (VIC), Brad Southwel (NSW), Nathan Whelan (NSW), Ayden Brenton (SA), Bradley Bettens (SA)

Judo: Robert Girdwood (WA), Tobias Sampson (TAS), Lillee Wakefield (SA), Liam Hudson (SA)

Rowing: Bronte Marshall (NSW), Julia Story (NSW), MacIntyre Russell (QLD), Aaron Skinner (VIC)

Swimming: Joshua Alford (ACT), Bailey Stewart (QLD), Jarred Dyer (NSW), Darren Sisman (NSW), Liam Schluter (QLD), India Biesse-Fitton (VIC), Jade Lucy (NSW), Kael Thompson (QLD), Airlie Davis (QLD), Stephanie Bruzzese (NSW), Charles Wilkins (SA), Bradley Doolan (VIC), Russell Booysen (QLD), Katrina Coffey (NSW), Alexander Hejaij (NSW), Gabriel Cregan (SA), Isaac Howells (NSW), Amelia Moore (NSW), Gabriella Howells (NSW), Bel Dabic (WA), Jakob Thompson (NSW), Madison Hinds (NSW), Ryan McGrane (VIC)

Table Tennis: Sam von Einem (SA).

Taekwondo: Chaeyon Seo (QLD), Damon Vasterink (VIC), Jack Arrah (WA)

Tennis: Kelly Wren (NSW), Carla Lenarduzzi (VIC), Breanna Tunny (QLD), Andriana Petrakis (SA), Archie Graham (QLD), Mitchell James (QLD), Damian  Phillips (NSW), Luke Barker (QLD), Tim Gould (QLD), Hunter Thompson (QLD), Simon Ma (NSW)

* A number of athletes may still be added to the team subject to completion of eligibility


For more information

Sport Inclusion Australia: www.sportinclusionaustralia.org,au

Virtus: www.virtus.sport

Virtus Global Games 2023: www.gg2023.org

Media Contact:

Robyn Smith OAM, CEO Sport Inclusion Australia and Head of Delegation (robyn.smith@siasport.org)

Nithi Suppiah, Media (nithi.suppiah@siasport.org)


About Sport Inclusion Australia & Virtus

Sport Inclusion Australia (SIA) is a National Sporting Organisation established in 1986 to assist the inclusion of people with an impairment, primarily an intellectual impairment into the mainstream community using sport as the medium. SIA facilitates, educates, and supports sporting organisations and the wider community about the power of sport to deliver social inclusion, with the focus on ability, advocating for the rights of all Australians to be treated with dignity. SIA is a founding member of Paralympics Australia.

Sport Inclusion Australia is also a founding member of Virtus, the International Sport Federation for athletes with an intellectual impairment. This position as a member of Virtus Australia, amplifies the work of inclusive sport on a global stage.

Formed in 1986, Virtus (formerly INAS), continues to grow its membership of more than 300,000 athletes from over 90 nations throughout the world. Virtus and its relationships with International Federations (IF) for Sport, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and UNESCO, supports the development and advocacy for athlete inclusion into elite competition.

Flynn and Cherny to represent Australia at Virtus Skiing World Championships 2023

Victoria’s Laura Flynn and Alex Cherny will represent Australia at the 12th Virtus Skiing World Championships to be held in Seefeld in Tirol, Austria from 11 to 17 March 2023.

This will be the first time either skier has represented Australia at a Virtus event, and for Laura the first time she has represented Australia at an International competition.  Growing up in skiing families the slopes of Mt Buller, Mt Hotham and Perisher became their home away from home and a place where they were able to be free.

Both accomplished skiers with multiple national titles, Alex and Laura have been on a very similar journey.  Both skiers started skiing when they were 3, they joined Disabled Wintersports Australia and the Multiclass sports association where they have had training and competition since an early age.  Both have also been fortunate to ski and train overseas in Japan and Canada and have families that are passionate about the snow.

“My dad introduced me to skiing when I was 3, it has been a passion we have shared ever since.” Laura said. 

Alex’s family also love to ski, his elder brother, Thomas has been a ski instructor for 10 years in Perisher NSW, & Canada (British Columbia) at Whistler, Lake Louise & Nakiska providing Alex an opportunity to travel and train overseas.

Alex and Laura will compete in the Giant Slalom and the Super G.  They are heading to Austria with new skis and unsure of what to expect both on the ski fields and their competitors but both very excited to represent Australia and committed to do their best.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to race in Seefeld and hope to do my best, ski hard and make new friends” Alex said.

Representing Australia has been a lifelong dream for Flynn. “I have always wanted to represent Australia, I can’t wait to race, I hope to do my best, get a good time and ski to the best of my ability” Laura said.

For both athletes skiing is a family passion, something that the family do together.  Seefeld will be no different with family members also travelling to Seefeld to support them as they represent Australia.

They have worked hard on their fitness to prepare for the Championships, but have not been able to ski since September 2022, an ongoing challenge Australian skiers face when competing in the Northern hemisphere.  Cherny has already left Australia to travel to Lenzerheide in Switzerland for 2 weeks race training.  Laura will also leave Australia early heading to Kitzbuhel, in Austria where she will prepare for the Championships.

Like all elite athletes, Alex and Laura juggle their work and sporting commitments. Alex working as a waiter at an inclusive café “All Things Equal” in Windsor and Laura working in Childcare at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Both organisations have been supportive allowing Alex and Laura time off to chase their dreams.

The Virtus Skiing Championships for skiers with an intellectual impairment are held every year providing opportunities in Nordic and Alpine skiing.  However, with the COVID-19 pandemic this will be the first Championship conducted for three years.

A record number of entries have been received with 85 athletes from 14 countries competing in the Alpine and Nordic events.  Countries competing include: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America.  Not surprising Austria has the largest contingent with 12 skiers.

This is the 12th World Championship and the fourth team to represent Australia. Australia has competed previously at the Championships in 2009, 2011 and 2012 with NSW’s Nicole Harris winning a total of 5 Gold and 3 silver medals. Victoria’s Olivia Sayers also represented Australia in 2012.

“With so many students taking part in Disabled Wintersports Australia and Multiclass Sports Association skiing events, it is pleasing to see athletes step up to represent Australia at the Virtus Skiing World Championships in 2023. We are excited for Alex and Laura and look forward to seeing their results. Their participation will inspire more athletes in future years.” said Sport Inclusion Australia CEO Robyn Smith.

The Championships commence on the 13th of March with the Super G closely followed by the Giant Slalom (GS) on the 14th.  Other events not being contested by Australian skiers are Nordic (Cross Country) and the slalom events.

For more information

Sport Inclusion Australia: www.sportinclusionaustralia.org,au

Virtus: www.virtus.sport

Skiing World Championships 2023: 2023 Virtus World Skiing Championships – 11.-17. März 2023, Seefeld in Tirol (virtus2022seefeld.com)

Media Contact:

Robyn Smith robyn.smith@siasport.org  (Sport Inclusion Australia CEO)

Michael Thomson michael.thomson@siasport.org  (Sport Inclusion Australia Coordinator)

Anne Cherny annecherny3124@gmail.com (Australian Team Manager)

About Sport Inclusion Australia & Virtus

Sport Inclusion Australia (SIA) is a National Sporting Organisation established in 1986 to assist the inclusion of people with an impairment, primarily an intellectual impairment into the mainstream community using sport as the medium. SIA facilitates, educates, and supports sporting organisations and the wider community about the power of sport to deliver social inclusion, with the focus on ability, advocating for the rights of all Australians to be treated with dignity. SIA is a founding member of Paralympics Australia.

Sport Inclusion Australia is also a founding member of Virtus, the International Sport Federation for athletes with an intellectual impairment. This position as a member of Virtus Australia, amplifies the work of inclusive sport on a global stage.

Formed in 1986, Virtus (formerly INAS), continues to grow its membership of more than 300,000 athletes from over 90 nations throughout the world. Virtus and its relationships with International Federations (IF) for Sport, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and UNESCO, supports the development and advocacy for athlete inclusion into elite competition.

Sport Inclusion Australia appoints Danielle Smith to the Board

Sport Inclusion Australia congratulates and welcomes Danielle Smith GAICD as the newest addition to the Board.

Danielle is the CEO of Sunshine Coast Lightning participating in the world’s best netball league, Suncorp Super Netball.

Her career spans more than 25 years working across a broad range of industries including sport, major events, management consulting, consumer products and chartered accounting.

Ms Helen Croxford, Chair of Sport Inclusion Australia said the appointment of Danielle Smith to the SIA Board is testament to the values of the organisation that strives to grow, develop and not accept barriers to making sport inclusive of all.

On behalf of the Board, I would like to welcome Danielle, and say how much her appointment will see Sport Inclusion Australia into its future path – a path to inclusion and changing perceptions of people with disabilities, in particular, people with intellectual impairments.” Ms Croxford said.

Commencing her career with big four advisory firm KPMG, Danielle’s career has included senior roles with NRL club Melbourne Storm, Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, AFL club Geelong Cats and global whitegoods giant, Whirlpool.

Danielle has been with the Melbourne Storm group for 11 years in a variety of roles including Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Board Director, Company Secretary and now CEO of Sunshine Coast Lightning.  In 2022, Danielle was awarded Life Membership for her outstanding values and contribution to the Melbourne Storm Group.

I am excited to join the board of Sport Inclusion Australia and being part of growing more inclusive outcomes for people with an intellectual disability through sport.” said Danielle.

Ms Robyn Smith, CEO said SIA is pleased to have Danielle Smith join the leadership. “ We are delighted to welcome Danielle Smith to the Sport Inclusion Australia team.  Her level of experience and passion for equity in sport will add enormously to our movement.”

Danielle relocated to Queensland 6 years ago to take on Sunshine Coast Lightning’s inaugural CEO role experiencing immediate success including winning back-to-back premierships in the club’s first two seasons of 2017 and 2018, making it the most successful professional sporting club start-up in Australian history.


Danielle is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors program (GAICD), a chartered accountant (CA) with CAANZ, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) and Bachelor of Arts (BA) from Monash University.

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:


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)


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.



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


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).


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)


Sport Inclusion Australia: sport@siasport.org

Virtus Oceania Asia Games: info@oagames2022.org