France to host 2023 Virtus Global Games

The Virtus governing board has announced overnight that the 2023 Virtus Global Games has been awarded to France.

The team at Fédération Française du Sport Adapté (FFSA) are highly experienced in delivering high quality international sporting events and have the support of government and sporting organisations to make the Virtus Global Games 2023 a truly remarkable event.” Said Barry Holman Chair of the Virtus Global Games Committee.

Archie Graham and Jade Lucy lead Australia team during the Opening Ceremony at the 2019 Virtus Global Games in Brisbane.

The Virtus Global Games is the pinnacle sporting event for athletes with an intellectual impairment.  It is conducted every four years in the year preceeding the Paralympics, which in 2024, is in Paris, France.

The Virtus Global Games originated in Bollnas Sweden in 2004 following the expulsion of athletes with an intellectual impairment from the Paralympics.  The first Games featured  six sports and was held at the same time as the 2004 Paralympics and has since grown to become the premier event for elite athletes with an intellectual impairment.  Held every 4 years in the year preceeding the Paralympics the Global Games has grown to include a core 9 sports and demonstration sports.

Following the first Virtus Global Games in Sweden the Games have been held in Liberec – Czech Republic (2009),  Loano – Italy (2011), Guayaquil – Ecuador (2015) and Brisbane – Australia (2019).   The Brisbane Games achieved what Sydney achieved in 2000, raising the bar in terms of performance, profile, and recognition of the ability of athletes.  The Brisbane Games organising committee set ambitious goals to celebrate inclusive sporting excellence, by changing attitudes, challenging perceptions and strengthening communities locally and globally.   The success of the Games has provided Virtus with a platform to build in all facets of its mission – driving the development of elite sport worldwide for athletes with an intellectual impairment.

The Global Games logo designed in Australia has been adopted by Virtus and has become the Games logo and will be an ongoing legacy of the Brisbane Global Games.

Australia fielded its largest team of athletes across all sports in Brisbane and finished on top of the medal tally for the 4thconsecutive Games.

“We had our largest team of 164 athletes compete in Brisbane and we look forward to working with the National Sporting Organisations and the athletes to build another large Australia team to defend our Number one country status at the 6th Virtus Global Games in Vichy  France in 2023” said Helen Croxford, President of Sport Inclusion Australia.

Australian team Captains Archie Graham (Tennis) and Jade Lucy (Swimming) are two athletes who will be counting down the 1000 days as they prepare for the Virtus Global Games in Vichy.

The Brisbane Games was an incredible experience for me as Australian co-captain, I hope to be part of the Australian team again in France in 2023” said Jade Lucy.  This will be Lucy’s 3rd Virtus Global Games

It was an honour to welcome the World’s best athletes to Brisbane in 2019, I will be working hard to make the Australian team for the 2023 Virtus Global Games in Vichy” said Archie Graham.  France holds good memories for Graham having won the Virtus Tennis World Championships in Paris in 2018.

Sports to be included in the 6th Virtus Global Games France are:  Athletics, Basketball, Cycling, Futsal, Rowing, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo and Tennis.

The announcement by Virtus has come at a great time for all athletes around the world impacted by COVID-19 who have seen all of their events cancelled or postponed in 2020.  “This announcement provides the athletes with some certainty and a goal to work towards after the disappointment of 2020 ” Said Robyn Smith  CEO Sport Inclusion Australia

The Virtus announcement coincided with the milestone of 1000 days to go.  While we can look forward to the Games with some certainty athletes will have have numerous events leading up to the Games once competition resumes starting with State and National Championships, Tokyo Paralympics, inaugural Regional Asia/Oceania Games in 2022 and various other World Championships.

The 6th Virtus Global Games will be held in the town of Vichy from 4 to 10 June  2023.

As one coach so eloquently put it – “We now have a Goal”.

 

Contact

 

AUSTRALIAS PERFORMANCE AT VIRTUS GLOBAL GAMES

Year Host City Position Gold Silver Bronze Total
2004 Bollnas, Sweden 2nd 11 16 17 44
2009 Liberec, Czech Republic 1st 20 15 13 48
2011 Loano, Italy 1st 30 14 11 55
2015 Guayaquil, Ecuador 1st 20 10 7 37
2019 Brisbane, Australia 1st 48 53 54 155
2023 Vichy, France ? ? ? ? ?

 

Introducing Hugo Taheny 2019 INAS Global Games Discus Champion

Hugo Taheny comes from Point Turton, a small remote coastal town in South Australia with a population of just over 300.  A trip to Adelaide to compete at Athletics South Australia competitions is a 6 hour return trip for the family. A long trip for most, but for Hugo and his family it is just what you have to do.

Not surprisingly Point Turton is a little short of sporting facilities, coaches and throwing equipment, but that doesn’t stop Hugo or his family. Hugo’s older brother Tom and sister Lucy have also competed at National level in athletics, while Lucy also excelled in Netball as a scholarship holder at SASI.

The youngest child of John and Louise Taheny, Hugo has always loved his sport and has been competing in athletics, basketball and football at local competitions since he was 10 years of age. One advantage growing up on a farm is there are plenty of paddocks to practice throwing under Dad John’s watchful eye.

In addition to the regular trips to Adelaide to compete, Hugo had also travelled interstate on 3 occasions to represent South Australia in athletics competitions.

Well supported by his local community and Athletics SA, it wasn’t until the 2018 Australian All Schools in Cairns that Hugo came to the attention of athletics selectors. Hugo won bronze medals in the T20 discus and shot put events and in doing so started a series of events that were to take this amazing athlete on a course to becoming the 2019 INAS Global Games Champion.

With INAS introducing events for athletes with Down syndrome at the 2019 INAS Global Games, Sport Inclusion Australia and athletics team officials were on the lookout for potential eligible athletes. Hugo came to the attention of an Athletics Australia official who was verifying eligibility for the All Schools in Cairns, in checking Hugo’s eligibility with Sport Inclusion Australia team officials became aware that Hugo was an eligible II-2 athlete whose performances met the qualifying standards for the Games and so were on a mission to sign him up or at least make him and his family aware of the new pathway and opportunities that now exists for him and other athletes.

It took a bit of chasing, but with the support of Athletics SA team officials were able to meet with Hugo and his family in Adelaide and discuss the opportunities that now lay ahead.

Hugo and his family were keen to pursue this opportunity which required another trip to Sydney for the Australian Championships in April and then to Brisbane for the Games.

Hugo’s athletics performances at the Games saw him win the II-2 Discus with a throw of 22.40m, a personal best of over 1.5m, he also competed in the shot put where he took Silver with a distance of 7.58m, fourth in the Javelin with a throw of 17.81m and a fourth placing in the 100m in another personal best of 15.42s.

While Hugo’s athletics performances were amazing, it wasn’t just the competition that brought out the best in Hugo.

The INAS Global Games is a world class sporting competition that represents the peak of sporting achievement and is held every four years. The 2019 INAS Global Games saw over 850 athletes from 48 countries compete in a world class competitive, safe, secure, inclusive environment, in a celebration of cultural diversity where people with an intellectual impairment can achieve their highest level of excellence through sport. The Global Games aims to change attitudes, challenge perceptions and strengthen communities locally and globally.

“Being part of the Games has made an enormous difference to Hugo’s confidence and independence, staying with the team for the 8 days amongst peers where he was just another elite athlete and treated with respect was amazing,” said Louise Taheny (Hugo’s mother).

Hugo was quick to learn that being an elite athlete has its advantages and also it’s disadvantages. Having just won his Gold medal Hugo received a tap on the shoulder from the Australian Sport and Drug Agency official as he had been selected at random to undertake a drug test.

Hugo was born with Down syndrome, he also is officially blind, hearing impaired and has a major heart defect. With all of these challenges ahead of him staying independently with the team is also a significant step for Hugo’s family. However with the support of the team officials Hugo and his family were able to overcome these challenges and provide the supportive environment for Hugo to succeed on and off the track.

On returning to Point Turton the response from the local community has been amazing, they have been there for the journey, they helped Hugo get to the Games and they have shared in his achievements. He has spoken at various community groups such as Lions and Lioness’ club meetings.

Since the Games, Hugo has completed Year 12 at Yorketown Area School where he was awarded the Senior Sportsperson of the Year award for the second year. He is keen to continue his athletics and personal journey and with the support of his family and the community looks to continue to be a positive advocate for people who live with a disability within the community.

In January Hugo was acknowledged by the community as their “Young Citizen of the Year”.

Hugo may well tell you his highlights might be winning Gold, standing on the victory Dias with hand on heart and the National anthem being played in your honour, being interviewed by the media or sitting in the pilots seat on the flight home. But for his parents and family who are bursting with pride at his achievements it is also the personal growth the resilience, courage and commitment that Hugo has shown that are the highlights.

For Games organisers who set ambitious targets to change attitudes, challenge perceptions and strengthen communities locally and globally, it is athletes like Hugo who have helped them to achieve these goals.

Sport Inclusion Australia, Deaf Sports Australia and Blind Sports Australia continuing to work as one – extending the collaboration

The peak bodies for athletes with an intellectual impairment, deaf and hard of hearing and blind or visually impaired have reaffirmed their commitment to continue working collaboratively for the benefit of each organisation and the athletes they represent.

The three organisations Sport Inclusion Australia, Deaf Sports Australia and Blind Sports Australia came together formally under the Sport Australia MoveitAUS program in 2019.  Since this initial program the three organisations have continued to work collaboratively in an effort to maximise the provision of services, opportunities and programs to their respective cohorts, while at the same time exploring how to minimise duplication and work more cohesively to improve the overall services and to determine an efficient way to use Government funds.

As a result of the MoveitAUS program, Sport Inclusion Australia, Deaf Sports Australia and Blind Sports Australia signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which along with the Sport Australia funding agreement ended on 30 June 2020.

However due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic Sport Australia has extended the funding agreement until 30 June 2021.

Having successfully implemented the June 2019 Funding Agreement, the three organisations have agreed to  renew the MOU under the same terms and conditions but have also agreed to explore the benefits of collaboration generally between the parties beyond the projects which were developed as part of the initial June 2019 Funding Agreement.

A joint statement from all three organisations. “Our three organisations have been in operation for many years, each with vast experience in providing inclusive sporting opportunities and programs for our athletes.  The last 12 months has re-affirmed our belief that our three organisations share synergies and that working together we have an opportunity to have greater impact for our members. We all look forward to continuing the collaboration and opportunity to develop further collaborative models”

One of those collaborative models may be a new entity model designed to enhance the strengths and synergies of the organisations while at the same time maximising the delivery of programs and services.

The parties recognise the different roles each organisation plays and that by supporting each other’s role the chance of success is greater for all parties.

 

For further information please contact:

Robyn Smith
0418 979 459
Robyn.smith@siasport.org
Sport Inclusion Australia
Sportinclusionaustralia.org.au

Phil Harper
0434 603 497 (SMS only)
phil.harper@deafsports.org
Deaf Sport Australia
deafsports.org.au

Matthew Clayton
0409 979 907
matt@blindsportsaustralia.com.au 
Blind Sports Australia
blindsportsaustralia.com.au

Pioneer Athletes and Swimmers attend inaugural Virtus World Championships in Athletics and Swimming

On this day (2 July) in 1989, a small team of 8 swimmers and 14 athletes represented Australia at the inaugural Virtus World Championships in Athletics and Swimming in Harnosand, Sweden.  The Championships were represented by 19 countries from Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.  Australia finished 2nd on the medal tally behind host nation Sweden with 11 Gold, 7 silver and 9 Bronze medals, closely followed by Iceland.

In his opening speech at the Games, INAS-FMH Chairperson Fernando M Vicente stated. “The opportunity for success and its accolades are important to all persons and athletes with an intellectual disability should have the same right to feel good and compete according to normal rules, or as Marie Little says “the same rights as others”.  This includes obtaining self confidence, status, experiencing risks, learning rules and learning to take risks.”

The athletes were pioneers for todays athletes who now have the choice to compete in a wide range of sports and the opportunity to represent their country.

One of Sport Inclusion Australia’s strong philosophy’s is that “Sport owns Sport”.  These two teams were coordinated by Sport Inclusion Australia (formerly known as the Australian Sport and Recreation Association for People with an intellectual disability), with teams nominated by Swimming Inc. and the Australian Athletic Union.  It is pleasing to see that even in these early years this fundamental structure was in place.  Today we see many more sports providing opportunities for people with an intellectual impairment to both compete and also the opportunity to represent their country based on merit.

Formed in 1986 Sport Inclusion Australia has grown from these early beginnings and today represents over 4,800 athletes competing in a wide range of Winter and Summer sports.  Athletics and Swimming remain the dominant sports which along with Table Tennis offer Paralympic competition.

“This was the start of a long history in International competition, with Australia finishing on top of the medal table in most of the Multisport events, validating our long held belief that if NSO’s drive inclusion, then the standard of athletes performances rise accordingly” said Sport Inclusion Australia CEO Robyn Smith.

Australia has competed at all subsequent Virtus World Championships and Global Games in Athletics and Swimming.  In the last two years Australian athletes have competed in Virtus events in Athletics, Basketball, Cricket, Cycling, Equestrian, Futsal, Half Marathon, Rowing, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis and Swimming.  On the national stage athletes also have opportunities to compete in AFL (FIDA), Cross Country,  Indoor Cricket, Lawn Bowls, Skiing, Softball, Ten Pin bowling, Touch Football and Triathlon.

Last year in Brisbane Australia fielded a team of 162 athletes competing across 10 sports at the Virtus Global Games, the biggest and best event yet for elite athletes with an intellectual impairment with teams from 48 countries competing.  As Sweden did back in 1989, the host nation Australia dominated the 2019 Games finishing on top of the medal tally.

Today’s anniversary comes during a time when we are locked down and sport is not possible for many due to Covid-19, but this provides us with an opportunity to look back at our early beginnings and acknowledge the growth in opportunities and recognition for athletes with an intellectual impairment.

“We congratulate the pioneers of the past for setting the stage for the 100’s of athletes who have followed in their footsteps” said Helen Croxford President Sport Inclusion Australia.

So who were are our early pioneers, or as they referred to themselves as “the Wonders from Down Under”?

Athletics: Kaye Freeman (Qld), Jacinta Fields (Qld), Carla Nitz (Qld), Racquel Nugent (Qld), Anne Walsh OAM (ACT), Anton Flavel (WA), Wayne Baldwin (Qld), Warwick Edwards (WA), Robert Lippitt (Qld), Gerhard Little (Tas), Russell Nelligan (WA), Ken Penny (Qld), Russell Torrance (WA), Warren Rolfe (Qld), Phillip Lavell (Manager, WA), Jo Hogan (Head Coach , ACT), Sue Cosgrove (Asst Coach, Qld).

Swimming: Bridgit Bromhead (ACT), Linda Cox (Tas), Danny Meadowcroft (Qld), John Krushka (Tas), Peter Love (Qld), Phillip Wardale (Qld), Rene Hardenbol (WA), Tim Krahe (SA), Jill Gates (Manager, SA), George Brown (Head Coach , WA), Erin Reddaway (Asst Coach, SA).

Delegation: Marie T Little OAM (Team Leader, SA), Jan Sutherland (General Manager, SA) and Trish Ayres (Physio, TAS).

The Australian star of the Games was Western Australia’s Rene Hardenbol winning 3 Gold, 2 Silver and 5 Bronze medals.  Hardenbol won the 200m and 400m Freestyle and 200m backstroke events.  Tasmania’s John Krushka was our only other Gold medallist in the pool winning the 50 and 100m backstroke events.  Krushka collected another 3 Bronze medals as part of the Australia men’s relay teams.  Canberra’s sole representative in the pool Bridgit Bromhead was our only female medallist with a Silver in the women’s 100m backstroke.

Australia finished third in the swimming medal tally behind Sweden and Iceland.

On the track Queensland’s Kaye Freeman was our most successful athlete winning 3 Gold and one Silver medal.  Freeman winning Gold in the 200m, Javelin and the 4 x 100m relay.  Western Australia’s Anton Flavel was our leading male athlete winning the men’s Javelin and Discus and collecting a Bronze in the Long jump.  Other individual medallists were Racquel Nugent (Qld) Gold in the women’s 100m and 4 x 100m relay, Anne Walsh (ACT) Silver in the womens 1500m and Russell Torrance with a Bronze in the men’s 800m and 2 more Bronze medals from men’s relay events.

Australia finished on top of the Athletics medal tally ahead of Sweden and Scotland.

For many athletes this was the first time they had travelled overseas and represented Australia, for most it was a life changing experience building confidence, developing life skills and most importantly changing perceptions.  These pioneers were our first Australian Representatives.

The team were finalists in the 1989 Sport Australia Awards – Team of the Year Category.

On returning to Australia team Manager Jan Sutherland delivered a paper titled “An evaluation and analysis of the first World Championships in Athletics and Swimming for persons with mental handicap 2-6 July 1989 in Harnosand , Sweden – Considering the role of elite competition in the structure of sport – An Australian perspective.  In her paper Sutherland makes several references to the importance of this event for athletes with an intellectual disability.  “This was the “Flagship” that was necessary to show that persons with an intellectual disability were able to participate competently in sport and hence stimulating greater enthusiasm for participation at all levels. Sutherland wrote.

Perhaps the last comment should be from the parent of an athlete reflecting on the impact of an inclusive sport on her daughter.

“Athletics opened up doors for Kaye which we thought would always be closed, she was recognised for her ability not her disability” Shirley Freeman.

Koenig flies flag for ACT

He stands out in the ACT’s Ivor Burge team not just because he is one of the tallest player but also because he is the best and the ACT’s sole representative in the  Australian Boomerangs Basketball team. However for Canberra’s Justin Koenig it hasn’t always been that way.

Koenig recalls the encouragement from his friend Andrew Hoatson to try out for the ACT’s Ivor Burge Basketball team back in 2010  “That first ACT representative team was coached by Jim Bell,  I started on the bench which is what new players do” said Koenig referring to his first appearance for ACT at the Ivor Burge Basketball Championships.  Some 10 years later including 6 years as an Australian Boomerangs representative, Koenig is very thankful to Hoatson and Bell for encouraging him to take up the sport.

A keen sportsman, Koenig played aussie rules (100 games), tee-ball and cricket as a junior and now enjoys golf as well.  One of Justin’s junior sport highlights is achieving a hat trick in cricket.

Growing up in Canberra he attended Woden special school before completing his studies at Copeland College.  Koenig doesn’t have great memories at Copeland with bullying and some difficulties settling in to the mainstream school with less support, but he also sees it as a time that he grew more independence.

“Justin has always loved his sport, it has been an important part of his life and helped him to build his confidence and ability to interact socially with others.” Said Justin’s mother Jennifer Koenig.

Koenig’s first game for the ACT Ivor Burge team was in 2010 against Victoria Country, a close game lost by the ACT 60-68 but importantly a game that saw him playing alongside his friend Andrew Hoatson and scoring his first points.  In those early years there was another ACT player dominating the scoresheets and representing the Australian Boomerangs in Mark Dahlberg.  The following year ACT had it’s best ever performance at the Ivor Burge Championships reaching the grand final against Victoria, Koenig, Hoatson and Dahlberg all still there.

In 2014 Australian Boomerang’s head coach Simon Robinson approached Koenig at the completion of the Ivor Burge Basketball Championships with some great news.  “I remember Simon coming up to me at the Closing Ceremony and telling me I had made the Australian Boomerangs team, it was a great feeling and I was very excited to be selected in my first Australian team” said Koenig.

That year he trained with the Boomerangs and in 2015 made his debut against Japan, 2015 also saw Koenig travel to Ecuador with the Boomerangs for the 2015 INAS Global Games.  Australia made the Bronze medal playoff but were out run by the team from Portugal 55 to 69.  In 2017 Koenig travelled to Italy with the Australian Boomerangs team for the 2017 INAS Basketball World Championships.  Australia again made the playoff for the Bronze, but unlike 2 years earlier in Ecuador they dominated the game defeating Poland 88-52 to take the Bronze medal.

2018 saw a lot of change for Koenig with new coaches in both the ACT Ivor Burge and Australian Boomerangs teams.

Former Canberra Capital player Michelle Cosier started coaching Justin as coach of the ACT Ivor Burge team.  “He is very passionate about his basketball on and off the court and wants to be the best he can be.” said Cosier.  For Koenig that passion can sometimes leads to frustration when things don’t always go the way they should.   “As a perfectionist he is very tough on himself, we have been working on strategies on his mindset and his role as a leader in the ACT team.” Cosier said.

The Ivor Burge Championships were held in Terrigal in 2018 and Koenig wasted no time impressing his new coaches with some outstanding statistics across the court.  “He is an incredibly strong player in all assets of the game, in one game he had a quadruple double with 38 points, 33 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals” Cosier said.

With the Australian Boomerangs, Koenig is comfortable with his role and describes himself as an impact player “ I focus on defence, I get on do my job and get off” he said.  Boomerangs Head Coach Julia Walsh describes Justin as an impact player and one of the leaders within the team on and off the court.  “When the going gets tough Justin is the player that can turn the game around and the team can get caught up in his energy. He has matured as a player and as a leader. Justin has learnt to manage his emotions and to assist others when under stress. He has a great sense of humour and that is always valuable when you are living in each others pockets in the tournament bubble.” Said Walsh.

Away from his ACT and Boomerang team duties Koenig plays Div 2 with the Ginninderra Rats in the ACT Basketball competition.  “It is a high level of competition that provides Justin with the challenge to work hard and play at a higher level on a regular basis.” Said Cosier.

He has been lucky with injuries having rolled his ankle a couple of times, but for a short time in 2019 he thought his good luck had come to an end.

“It was one of our final training camps before the Global Games.   We were competing for places in the team and during a scrimmage my nose made contact with one of my team mates elbows, it was a mess, blood everywhere and we all thought I had broken it.” Koenig said.  A few hours in casualty and a few xrays revealed no break and Koenig’s dream for a home Global Games was still intact.

Koenig made the Australian Boomerangs team for the Brisbane Global Games where they played off for Gold against a strong Portugal team in front of a large home crowd.  Despite having defeated Portugal in the round robin stage, Portugal were again too strong for the Boomerangs winning 94 to 68 bringing back memories of their 2015 Bronze medal playoff.  Although disappointed the Boomerangs Silver medal equalled their best result of a Silver medal in the 1994 INAS Basketball World Championships in Greece.

Away from the Basketball court, Koenig works in the Emergency department at the Canberra Hospital, a job he has had for the past 7 years.    The job has provided Koenig with some stability and has been very supportive of his Basketball commitments allowing him time off for camps and tours.

Basketball ACT recognised Koenig’s performances and contribution to basketball as their 2015 Male Player of the Year and in 2018 ‘recognition of significant personal achievement bringing credit to Basketball and the ACT Basketball Community’.

Koenig is also very aware of those that have enabled him to do what he does best, his mum Jennifer, ACT coaches Jim Bell, Chloe Tugliach, Michelle Cosier and Boomerangs coaches Simon Robinson, Julia Walsh and Glen Jordan.

Still driven to be the best he can be and to play at a higher level, Koenig looks forward to more challenges ahead and hopefully one day helping the Boomerangs to that elusive Gold medal that has eluded them so far.

Wayne Bird retires from Basketball Victoria

Sport Inclusion Australia would like to congratulate Wayne Bird on his retirement from Basketball Victoria.  A former President and current Board director of Sport Inclusion Australia, Wayne has worked for Basketball Victoria for the past 27 years, primarily as CEO and more recently as Project Manager of the State Basketball Centre expansion.

Reflecting on his past 27 years with Basketball Victoria, Wayne identified the growth of the organisation, the creation and expansion of programs such as Aussie Hoops and inclusion as well as the relationships he has built as his highlights.

Sport Inclusion Australia, the 2019 INAS Global Games and Virtus have also benefitted greatly from Wayne’s contributions over the past 12 years.  Wayne joined the Board of Sport Inclusion Australia in 2008 and in 2011 took over the Presidency from the late Marie T Little OAM. In 2017 Wayne was awarded Life Membership of Sport Inclusion Australia and in 2019 he stepped down from his role as President but remained on the Board.

Wayne saw the formation of the Global Games Sports Company as the initial Director and  Chair and has worked internationally on Virtus committees over a number of years.

While Wayne has said goodbye to the Victorian Basketball community we are very pleased and fortunate that he will continue his role with Sport Inclusion Australia.

Wayne has left an enormous legacy with Basketball Victoria, please see Basketball Victoria’s announcement at: http://basketballvictoria.com.au/wayne-bird-retires/

Australian INAS Global Games team officials to lead Australian cyclists to Virtus Cycling World Championships

Australian INAS Global Games cycling team head coach Brad Reardon, along with his assistant coach Peter Ganss and manager Liz Gosper will lead the Australian team to their next major international competition, the Virtus Cycling World Championships in Portugal in July.

Having brought together our largest and most successful cycling team at an INAS Global Games,  Reardon, Ganss and Gosper have been re-appointed to continue the development of the Australian team.

Unsure of the level of competition and performance of the Australian team leading into the Games, Reardon was pleasantly surprised with the teams performance and inspired to take the team to the next level where they will be even more competitive against the World’s best.

The cycling team was made up of many debutante athletes who had not been exposed to such competition previously. With this experience behind them and with the continued assistance of coaches such as Reardon, Ganss and Gosper the team is well placed to take on the World’s best at the upcoming Virtus World Cycling Championships in Portugal.

With over 40 years experience coaching cyclists at all levels, the INAS Global Games was Reardon’s first experience working with cyclists with an intellectual impairment.  “It is an honour to be appointed as a head coach of an Australian cycling team and it is a pleasure to continue to work with these cyclists that are so keen to learn and improve.” Reardon said.

Reardon will be well supported by Ganss and Gosper both of whom have performed and medalled at National level at Masters, Ganss in cycling and Gosper in triathlon.  The bulk of the Australian team are expected to come from Victoria where Ganss and Gosper have been very busy and successful developing and driving a cycling program for cyclists with an intellectual impairment.

The team is expected to be announced in early March and will travel to Portugal in July to compete in both road and track events.

Cyclists have till close of business on Monday to lodge and expression of interest for Australian Team selection.

The successful INAS Global Games held in Brisbane in October 2019 has been a huge catalyst for the sport with Cycling Australia taking the lead and announcing that they will include events for cyclists with an intellectual impairment in future National Championships.  Cycling Queensland were so impressed with the cyclists ability and the level of competition that they have added events to their State Championships also.

Head Coach Brad Reardon assists Chloe Turner in the Starting gate during the 2019 INAS Global Games.

The first National Road Championships were held in Ballarat in January with Victoria’s Nathan Broeren and Georgia Powning our Inaugural National Champions in the Time Trial.  Powning went on to win the Road race with Andre Ascui taking the men’s title.

“Cycling Australia was pleased to include the athletes with intellectual disability into the Federation University Road National Championship.  Cycling is a sport for all Australians and we look forward to growing the number of opportunities for riders of all abilities”.  said Kipp Kaufmann, General Manager – Sport at Cycling Australia.

Sport Inclusion Australia is the Australian member organisation of Virtus and works with National Sporting Organisations to be inclusive of all Australian’s primarily those with an intellectual impairment.

“We are very pleased to see the development of cycling opportunities within Cycling Australia and its Member States for these cyclists and the professional approach to coaching and development of this team.” said Sport Inclusion Australia CEO Robyn Smith.

The Virtus Cycling World Championships will be held in Anadia Portugal from 21 to 27 July.


For more information on cycling opportunities contact Michael Thomson at Sport Inclusion Australia on 03 5762 7494 or email michael.thomson@sportinclusionaustralia.org.au

Weather impacts 23rd Australian Tennis Championships Melbourne

The 23rd Australian Tennis Championships will be remembered as the championships were Tim Gould claimed back to back II-2 singles titles, Oska Taylor and Mitchell Meares claim the first II-3 doubles championship, Archie Graham and Carla Lenarduzzi take out their first mixed doubles title and the weather that caused all games on the final day to be abandoned.

Tennis Australia continued the expansion of the Championships to include the new Virtus II-3 category for players with Autism.  Having introduced Mixed doubles and the II-2 category in the previous two years, this latest expansion ensuring a record number of competitors.

With 8 players entering the II-3 singles, a doubles competition was also viable and added to the schedule.

The record fields also brought about a new format for the mixed doubles which was played as a knockout fast four competition.  The new revamped competition being played on the Wednesday afternoon ensured a quick result and provided ample time for all other singles and doubles matches to be played.

In its third year, the mixed doubles has seen three different pairings take out the title.  Inaugural Champions Sam Von Einem and Yasmin Sanders came up against defending champions Damian Phillips and Kelly Wren in the semi final, with Phillips/Wren winning through to the final (4-1) against Archie Graham and Carla Lenarduzzi.  Graham and Lenarduzzi winning a close match 5-4 to claim their first first title as a pairing.

With smoke and heat in the news leading into the Championships players were expecting a number of delays due to the weather.  Unfortunately the heat impacted on Thursday afternoon and again Friday afternoon making for a tough final day with a large number of games still to be completed.

The final day saw players on court preparing for their matches when unfortunately the rain began to fall, after 4 hours of waiting and no end in sight for the rain, the competition officials made the decision to abandon all games.  With the mixed doubles the only competition played to completion, organisers were presented with some tough decisions to determine the outcome of each category.

The II-2 mens singles and II-3 men’s doubles had both finished their round robin component where all players had played against each other enabling the titles in these two categories to be awarded to the top ranked player and pairing.

In the II-2 men’s singles Tim Gould had completed the round robin phase undefeated and was therefore declared the Champion with Tim Walsh the runner up, a repeat of the 2019 Championship.

Likewise in the II-3 doubles Oska Taylor and Mitchell Meares finished their round robin phase undefeated with Orlando Thompson and Jake Vincent the runners-up.

All other finals were unable to be determined and therefore were cancelled with no Champions to be declared for 2020.

It wasn’t just the ranking points or prizemoney that officials will need to determine, as the Championships were also the main selection trial for the Australian team which will contest the Virtus Tennis World Championships in Belgium later this year.

Congratulations must go to the tournament officials for the way they handled the weather conditions keeping all players informed of delays and doing their best to get as many games completed as possible.


Contact

  • George Shepeard (Tournament Director) 0466 932 457
  • Robyn Smith (CEO Sport Inclusion Australia) 0418 979 459

Ascui, Broeren and Powning Claim first Cycling National Titles

Victoria’s Andre Ascui, Nathan Broeren and Georgia Powning have claimed the inaugural National Cycling Champion titles for athletes with an intellectual impairment at the Federation University Road National Championships in Ballarat.

Introduced by Cycling Australia to the 2020 National Championship program following the successful INAS Global Games cycling program cyclists were offered time trial and road race events for the first time.

Brunswick Cycling Club’s Nathan Broeren was the first to claim the a national title in the men’s individual time trial on day 1.  Broeren completed the two lap course around the Federation University campus in 30 minutes and 20 seconds, more than 2 minutes ahead of Harry Mezger (Preston CC) in second place and Andre Ascui (Preston CC) a further 40 seconds back in third place.

Having worn the green and gold on three occasions at the 2009, 2011 and 2019 INAS Global Games, Broeren was pleased to earn the Green and Gold stripes which he will proudly wear for the next 12 months as National Champion.

“I have represented Australia on three occasions and it feels great to be able to win a National title.” said Broeren

Not far behind Broeren was Preston Cycling Club’s Georgia Powning.  Powning completed her two lap course in 36 minutes and 58 seconds almost 2 minutes ahead of Chloe Turner (Preston CC) with Montana Whiteley (Preston CC)  a further 20 seconds back in third position.  All three cyclists recently represented Australia at the INAS Global Games in cycling with Powning also competing in Athletics where she collected a Bronze medal in the women’s 3000m

“It feels good and I am very proud to be a National Champion” said Powning  “It was a really hilly and tough course but I used my gears and got out of the saddle” she said.

Day 4 of the Championships saw the cyclists compete in the Road race events.  The women’s 30km event saw Powning, Turner and Whiteley finish in the same order as the time trial, while in the men’s event Andre Ascui (Preston CC), the Bronze medallist from the men’s time trial took out his first National Championship completing the 40km course in 1 hour 20 minutes and 41 seconds well clear of his closest rivals.  The battle for the minor medals was a closer tussle between Carlo Manolitsas (Preston CC) and Montgomery Cooper (St Kilda CC).  It was Manolitsas who maintained his pace well over the first three laps and then made the decisive break on the tiring Cooper as they entered the final hill climb.  After a fast early pace Cooper was unable to respond to Manolitsas, holding on for the Bronze medal.

After losing his way on the time trial course earlier in the week a silver medal in the road race was a wonderful personal achievement and a great way to finish the Championships for Manolitsas.

The hilly course challenged most of the cyclists who are still learning their craft and in particular gear changing.  “We have worked hard at training and were expecting the big hill climb so our riders were well prepared, and it showed in their performances” said Liz Gosper from Inclusive Sport Training.

Cyclists and families were full of praise for Cycling Australia not only for the inclusion of the events but also for making the athletes and the supporters feel welcome and part of the cycling family.

“Cycling Australia was pleased to include the athletes with intellectual disability into the Federation University Road National Championship.  Cycling is a sport for all Australians and we look forward to growing the number of opportunities for riders of all abilities”.  Said Kipp Kaufmann, General Manager – Sport at Cycling Australia.

“To have a sport identify the need to include athletes within their existing program is amazing and testimony to Cycling Australia’s commitment to inclusion”.  Said Robyn Smith Chief Executive Officer Sport Inclusion Australia.  “Furthermore to hear many positive comments from the cycling community welcoming the energy and enthusiasm that the cyclists and their supporters bring to the event is also very rewarding.” Smith said.

Cyclists will now focus on the upcoming VIRTUS Cycling World Championships to be held in Portugal in July.

 

Contact
For more information on the cycling opportunities for athletes with intellectual impairment including the upcoming VIRTUS Cycling World Championships contact Sport Inclusion Australia at 03 5762 7494 or email mail@sportinclusionaustralia.org.au

Boomerangs set to take on World’s Best

Sport Inclusion Australia and Basketball Australia have pleasure in announcing the players to represent Australia in the men’s Basketball competition at the 2019 INAS Global Games.

Known as the Boomerangs, the men’s basketball team features seven players that won Bronze at the last INAS Basketball World Championships in Italy in 2017 (Jake De La Motte (VIC), Joshua Cleary (TAS), Wayne Kinross (SA), Brad Kinross (SA), Justin Koenig (ACT), James Myers (VIC) and Frazer Dawber (VIC)).  South Australian brothers Keenan and Zachary Georg-Dent along with Victoria’s James DeBetta and Ryan Briggs are making their debut in the Green and Gold.

Head Coach Julia Walsh will take the Boomerangs into her first INAS Global Games after a long preparation period.  “We have a very experienced team of players that have competed at previous INAS Global Games and World Championships and along with our new players they have all worked very hard over the past 12 months to prepare for these Games.” Walsh said.

The Boomerangs have never finished higher than third and with the current European and World Championship Gold medallist France and Silver medallists Portugal coming, the Boomerangs will have to be at their best, but with the top point scorer from the last INAS World Championships and Australian Ivor Burge Championships, Jake De La Motte in good form the team are confident of matching it with their European opponents and hopefully achieving their best ever result.

“It has been a pleasure to watch this team come together and develop under the tutelage of Julia, they have blended well as a team and we are hopeful of this team improving on the 2017 INAS World Championship Bronze medal”. said Sport Inclusion Australia CEO Robyn Smith.

The INAS Global Games will be held in Brisbane from 12-19 October with the men’s Basketball competition scheduled for 13-19 October.

Boomerangs Basketball team for the 2019 INAS Global Games

Players: Joshua Cleary (Tas), Frazer Dawber (Vic), Jake De La Motte (Vic), James Debetta (Vic), Keenan George-Dent (SA), Zachary George-Dent (SA), Wayne Kinross (SA), Brad Kinross (SA), Justin Koenig (ACT), James Myers (Vic)

Head Coach: Julia Walsh (Vic),

Manager: Glen Jordan (Vic)

Asst Coaches: Damian Clarke (Vic), Ryan Holloway (Vic), Emma Neilson (Vic)

Contact:
Julia Walsh, Head Coach 0431 731 314
Robyn Smith, CEO Sport Inclusion Australia 0418 979 459

Players on request via Glen Jordan Manager 0415 315 025


About GG2019

The INAS Global Games is a world-class sporting competition for elite athletes with an intellectual impairmentthat represents the peak of sporting achievement. Held once every four years, the Global Games sees competitors from up to 80 countries going for gold and vying for the honour of being recognised as the best in their field.

Over seven intensive days of competition, athletes, officials, volunteers and spectators alike will revel in the spectacle of world-class and friendly rivalry, whilst simultaneously enjoying the welcoming inclusive spirit of the Games. Sports competition will be held in Brisbane bests sporting facilities including Sleeman Sports Complex, Queensland Tennis Centre and Queensland State Athletics Centre to name a few.

The INAS Global Games is a celebration of cultural diversity and allows athletes to compete in a secure, fun and friendly environment. The Games also work to promote INAS’s goals of changing attitudes, challenging perceptions, creating opportunities, developing pathways and strengthening communities.


Ten  Official INAS Sports at the INAS Global Games – Brisbane 2019

·       Athletics

·       Cycling

·       Swimming

·       Tennis

·       Basketball

·       Futsal

·       Table Tennis

·       Cricket

·       Rowing

·       Taekwondo – Poomsae

AFL – will host a Demonstration event (Male AFL Players with intellectual impairment)

Netball – The Marie Little Shield (National Championships for Female netballers with Intellectual Impairment)