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:


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:

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:,au


Virtus Global Games 2023:

Media Contact:

Robyn Smith OAM, CEO Sport Inclusion Australia and Head of Delegation (

Nithi Suppiah, Media (


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:,au


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

Media Contact:

Robyn Smith  (Sport Inclusion Australia CEO)

Michael Thomson  (Sport Inclusion Australia Coordinator)

Anne Cherny (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:
Virtus Oceania Asia Games:

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:

Virtus Oceania Asia Games:

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)



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 (


Sport Inclusion Australia 0414 733 339 or




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.



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