Creating opportunities for swimmers with Down syndrome

Creating broader opportunities for swimmers with Down syndrome in Australia is set to grow under the guidance of Sport Inclusion Australia, who for 35 years have committed to sport inclusion for all.

Down Syndrome Swimming Australia (DSSA) announced to members the organisation’s transition to Sports Inclusion Australia (SIA), and it comes at a time when many of Australia’s National and State Sport Organisations are opening up to collaborate to ensure sport is delivered in an inclusive environment.

This is a result of the recent establishment of the new Australian Sporting Alliance for People with a Disability (ASAPD), which is supported and funded by Sport Australia. The Alliance members are driven by a shared purpose to collaborate, advocate and facilitate inclusive sport and physical activity for people with a disability.

To ensure the success of the DSSA transition to Sport Inclusion Australia, a committee is formed with representatives of the previous DSSA board, Swimming Australia, Down Syndrome Australia and SIA staff.  A key objective of the committee is to build inclusive initiatives with the aim to have more people with Down syndrome participating in sport.

We are excited to see the development of these partnerships within sport working towards building a more inclusive society and importantly the participation of people with Down syndrome.  Down Syndrome Australia is pleased to play its part in promoting these opportunities and inclusive messages through our networks.” Angus Graham Chair Down Syndrome Australia.

In 2017, SIA’s international partner Virtus, the International Sport Federation for Athletes with an Intellectual Impairment, introduced two new groups for athletes with Autism (II-3) and for athletes with additional physical conditions (II-2) The II-2 group has a focus on athletes with Down syndrome.   The introduction of this pathway in Virtus provides an additional international pathway for swimmers with Down syndrome.  A highlight of this initial work was the participation and success of swimmers with Down syndrome at the 2019 Global Games in Brisbane.

DSSA was formed in 2007 to promote the participation of people with Down syndrome in swimming providing a pathway to National and International competition.  Working collaboratively with SIA since its inception DSSA has facilitated the growth of Australian swimmers with Down syndrome on to the international stage where they have been recognised as the Champion Male and Female athletes and Champion team at World Down Syndrome Swimming Championships since 2004.

DSSA conducted its first National Championship in 2011 and this event continues to be conducted every 2 years with increased participation.

DSSA’s achievements in such a short period of time have been amazing, our swimmers established themselves as the world’s best on numerous occasions. In 2019 they were an integral part of the success of the Australian team competing at the 2019 Virtus Global Games in Brisbane.  We look forward to building on these achievements and working with our partners, Swimming Australia, Down Syndrome Queensland, Down Syndrome Australia and School Sport to build the capacity and participation of swimmers with Down syndrome across all levels,” said Robyn Smith, CEO Sport inclusion Australia.

Sport Inclusion Australia has a vision that ‘sport owns sport for all Australians’ and that the local club being the foundation for sport to build social inclusion and connectiveness in the community.

This week the committee have announced a series of swim clinics to be held in Queensland through July August and September.

 

Contacts

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

DSSA swimming clinics: dssa.org@gmail.com

Chance Meeting Leads to Inclusion of Events

President of the Commonwealth Games Federation Dame Louise Martin DBE (left) with CEO of Sport Inclusion Australia Robyn Smith.

The Commonwealth Games Federation this week announced the full list of medal events for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Included in that list are three events for athletes with an intellectual disability, the S14 200m freestyle for men and women and a mixed relay.

The previous Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018 were lauded as the most gender equal multi-sports event in history. An amazing goal which Games organisers did achieve. It was also an amazing inclusive event with a large number of  events for athletes with a disability.

Unfortunately for female swimmers with an intellectual disability, the Games did not feel equal or inclusive with the sole event for athletes with an intellectual disability being for men only.

This inequality wasn’t lost on Commonwealth Games Federation President Dame Louise Martin DBE either.

Sport Inclusion Australia CEO, Robyn Smith was fortunate to meet Martin on two occasions, once at a forum during the Games and then again at Sport Acord Summit held on the Gold Coast in May 2019. Martin was aware of the inequality, stating she personally awarded the medal to the Men’s 200m S14 Freestyle event at the Games and questioned where the women were and gave an assurance that this would be rectified.

“I was fortunate to meet with Louise at a forum on the Gold Coast during the Games where I raised the issue and then again at Sport Accord Summit 18 months later, we discussed a range of topics and I applauded Louise and the Commonwealth Games Federation for the amazing work to make this Games gender equal and the wonderful inclusion of events for athletes with a disability.  I was able to point out to Louise that even though there was an overall gender balance, that sadly this was not the case for athletes with an intellectual disability.  To my surprise Louise was aware of the inequality and gave me her word that this would be rectified at the next Games.” Smith said

Martin was true to her word as this week’s announcement of events for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games includes event for male and female S14 swimmers.

Smith who is also Vice President of the International organisation Virtus is keen to see developments across all sports and competitions,  “we would like to see events added in Athletics and Table Tennis in the future along with the other events for athletes with an intellectual disability, but this inclusion is a positive move by the Commonwealth Games Federation “ Smith said.

The Games will be held in Birmingham England from 28 July to 8 August 2022, 4 months prior to the Virtus Oceania Asia Games in Brisbane in November.

 

Contact: Robyn Smith (CEO Sport Inclusion Australia) 0418 979 459.  Robyn.smith@siasport.org

Cyclists return to Ballarat for 2021 Federation University Road Championships

Australia’s top cyclists will return to the road for the 2021 Federation University Road Championships this week in Ballarat.  The week of cycling will see a series of events for the elite to the community riders in a festival of cycling starting Wednesday 3 February and concluding on Sunday 7 February with the Men and Women’s Elite races.

Included in the Championship program for the second year will be the Time trial and Road race National Championships for cyclists with an intellectual disability.

2020 Champions Nathan Broeren (Men’s Time Trial), Andre Ascui (Men’s Road race) and Georgia Powning will all be back in action to defnd their titles.

2020 Federation University Road National Championships on January 8, 2020 in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. (Photo by Con Chronis)

Broeren has represented Australia at three Virtus Global Games winning medals on all occasions, in December he competed at the Australian track Championships in Brisbane winning several track titles.  This year he will see some additional competition from fellow Australian representative Nathan Glarvey, 2020 Silver medallist Harry Mezger, Ascui and several younger riders who are making their debut in Ballarat.  Broeren, Glarvey, Ascui and Powning will compete in both the time trial and road race this week.

A talented athlete and cyclist, Powning has represented Australia in cycling and athletics.  In 2019 she won a Bronze medal in women’s 3000m at the 2019 Virtus Global Games in Athletics and then moved from the Athletics track to the cycling track competing all track events.

Powning and Turner are expected to battle it out for the gold medal in Saturdays road race over 30.6km and Thursday’s time trial over 11.9km, but will be need to be on their guard particularly in the time trial with last year’s Bronze medallist Montana Whitely and National Track Champion Molly Thatcher in the mix.

The men’s time trial will see last years medallists (Broeren, Mezger and Ascui) keen to defend their titles, but this year they will have added competition from Nathan Glarvey and the 18 year olds Cameron Marshall and Jack Stobie all of whom are making their debut at the Championships.   Glarvey got the better of Broeren in the time trial event at the 2019 Virtus Global Games in Brisbane and the two have had some very close races together on the track.  Marshall an Australian representative at the 2019 Virtus Global Games and Stobie have just turned 18 making them eligible for their first Road Nationals.  Both have shown outstanding form in training and will relish the hilly course.

2020 Federation University Road National Championships on January 8, 2020 in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. (Photo by Con Chronis)

The 40.8km road race on Saturday will possibly be the most exciting and hardest to predict.  Broeren missed the road race in 2020, but on form he is expected to be among the medallists.  Defending Champion Ascui will be keen to defend his title as will 2020 medallists Carlo Manolitsas and Monty Cooper, throw in the youngsters Marshall and Stobie and Townsville’s David Frazer we are set for an exciting race.

Frazer is the unknown cyclists in the field, in 2005 he represented Australia at the Virtus Athletics World Championships in Canberra, he retired from athletics in 2010 and has since focussed on his riding.  Originally from Ballarat Frazer is very familiar with the course having lived in Ballarat and ridden the course on numerous occasions in training rides.   Now a keen cyclist he has travelled to Ballarat with his Townsville cycling club and will ride the Para road race on Saturday as well as the Men’s elite 185.6km race

 

Events:

  • Time Trial:          Men and Women 11.9kms, Thursday 4 February commencing at 10:00am
  • Road Race:         Men 40.8km (4 laps), Women 30.6km (3 laps), Saturday 6 February 07:30am

More Information:

New Australian Sporting Alliance working together towards a more inclusive future

The Australian Sporting Alliance for People with a Disability (ASAPD) acknowledges International Day of People with a Disability (IDPwD) and supports its aim to promote greater understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of those with a disability, impairment or limitation.

 

The Alliance brings together Australia’s nine National Sporting Organisations for people with a disability, all of whom share a common purpose to improve the lives of Australians living with a disability using sport as the medium

 

“Each member of the Alliance already has a strong foundation, a wealth of knowledge and experience that supports resources and programs that are delivered to sports, schools and recreation and fitness industries throughout Australia. This collaboration will add a new layer of empowerment and direction for the people they support,” said newly-appointed Alliance Chair, Robyn Smith (who is CEO of Sport Inclusion Australia).

 

Initiated in partnership with Sport Australia, the Alliance has already achieved significant success having lodged a joint submission to the National Disability Strategy to ensure that sport is included in the next 10-year plan.  

 

“We have already seen the power of the nine national organisations working together as a collective with the submission to the National Disability Strategy and the Alliance looks forward to continuing to work with Australian sport to build their capacity to be inclusive of all Australians,” said Alliance Vice Chair, Phil Harper (who is Deaf Sports Australia’s General Manager).

 

The Alliance has already established four key groups to take their work forward, including: Government and Advocacy; Shared Services and Collaboration; Participation and Pathways; and Research and Innovation. A new Project Manager will be employed in the new year to co-ordinate the work of these groups and to enhance the Alliance’s impact and shared resources and efficiencies.

 

Alliance member John Croll (Chair of Disability Sport Australia) said it is apt that the theme for IDPwD 2020 is ‘Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World’.

 

“The role of sport in building community, social inclusion and connection has never been more important, particularly for people with a disability. A key initiative of the Alliance will be researching the economic and social value of sport and participation for all people with a disability,” he said.

 

Another Alliance member, Lynne Anderson (CEO of Paralympics Australia) said: “It is incredible to see how far this initiative has come and what it has achieved in such a short space of time in developing a strong and unified collective for the sector”.

 

The nine National Sporting Organisations for people with a disability who have formed the Alliance are:

 

  • Blind Sports Australia
  • Deaf Sports Australia
  • Disability Sports Australia
  • Disabled Winter Sports Australia
  • Riding for the Disabled
  • Special Olympics Australia
  • Sport Inclusion Australia
  • Paralympics Australia
  • Transplant Australia

 

For interviews contact: Alliance Chair, Robyn Smith on 0418 979 459

Sydney 2000 Paralympics – The Gold Medal Relay

The Sydney Olympics may have had the air guitar playing Australian 4 x 100m freestyle relay team, but the Sydney 2000 Paralympics had the awesome amigo’s.

Brett Reid, Paul Cross, Patrick Donachie and Stewart Pike represented Australia at the 2000 Paralympics in swimming.  Paul and Brett were the experienced members of the team, they competed at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics and 1998 IPC Swimming World Championships in Christchurch.  For Stewart and Patrick, it would be their first major international experience wearing the Green and Gold.

The four swimmers, from very different backgrounds, all came together for the first time in Sydney.

Growing up in a swimming family it wasn’t surprising to see Brett in the pool from an early age with his mother as his coach, his first Nationals were in Perth in 1993.  That same year Paul Cross took up swimming and the following year he too was competing at Nationals.  In 1996, they travelled to Atlanta together for the 1996 Paralympics and then Christchurch for the 1998 IPC World Championships.

Around that time a rather energetic and adventurous Stewart Pike was encouraged to take up a less dangerous sport by his parents.  Thankfully for Stewart he chose swimming, his first competition was the 1996 Pacific School Games in Perth where he met Paul.   While Paul was off to the Paralympics, Stewart was slowly making a name for himself and breaking Paul’s National age records.

Patrick on the other hand had been in the pool through all of this, he started early with learn to swim classes, progressed through stroke correction, club and squad training.  In 1995, he competed in his first multi class event and in 1996 progressed to the state championships.

1998 was the turning point for these swimmers, Stewart had joined Paul and Brett as a member of the Australian swim team the Dolphins, he travelled to England and competed in his first international swim meet.

Patrick was just hearing about the Paralympics and the fact that he could be part of it.  He had a choice to make, was he going to take up swimming or Tennis.  The lure of the Paralympics was too much and swimming won out.  Patrick’s first Nationals were in 1999, it was his first real test and chance to impress selectors.

Paul, Stewart and Brett had established themselves and had the making of a competitive relay team for the Paralympics, but a fourth swimmer was needed.  Thank fully for the young 17 year old from Campbelltown selectors looked his way.

The Netherlands were the World record holders and favourites, but this team was determined to take their crown.  “We had to do it for our families and everyone that has supported us and had faith in us” they said.  They were prepared to leave no stone unturned or let any hair follicle get in the way.

Day 5 of the Games (23 October) started like all others, then the news broke that the team from the Netherlands had not checked in and were out of the relay.  This didn’t unsettle the relay team, they were ready whether the World Record holders were there or not, and they still had a surprise for their opponents, coaches and families.

Earlier that day, all four swimmers had shaven their heads.  The freshly shaven scalps signalled to the world that this team meant business and were going to leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of Paralympic Glory.

Brett got the team off to a great start, they were in third place less than a length behind Great Britain and Russia as he changed over to Paul.  The team from Great Britain were out in front but Paul was focussed and the Aussies were coming, a great turn at 50 saw Paul move alongside the Russian swimmer and a strong finish we were a clear second and within half a body length of first.  Paul changed to Patrick who soon moved the team alongside the team from Great Britain and as he turned for home the Australian’s were in the lead.  Stewart entered the pool in first place and extended the lead anchoring the Australian team to a Gold medal and a World record.

It was a special moment for the four young men.  It was the first time Paul’s father had seen him swim, he sadly passed away 2 months later.

“We were a team and no way we would have broken the record if we weren’t.”  Paul said.

Paul now lives on the Gold Coast and is heavily involved with local football.

“Brett Reid, Paul Cross, Stewart Pike and myself created the most memorable win of our lives that I assure has gone down in Australian history. I remember that year, the race and the marvellous Games that was the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. It did give me a platform of many successes in and out of swimming in Australia and around the world after the Games had finished. “ Patrick said

Brett Reid continued swimming and retired after the 2004 Virtus World Championships. Swimming still plays a big part in Brett’s life as he works at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.

While Stewart retired not long after the Games, the impact the Games and lessons learnt from swimming  has had a profound impact.  “I was picked on a bit by my mates as they couldn’t see my disability, Swimming wasn’t my choice it was my saviour – it has changed my life. I am not the joker I used to be I am now more responsible, married, a devoted father of two children and working two jobs.” Stewart said.

Looking back the 4 swimmers shared many memories of the Games, the friendships, food, Bruce the Moose And importantly the respect.  “We were all members of the Dolphins,  we were athletes not people with a disability, recognised amongst the best Olympians, Paralympians and world record holders, it  was amazing feeling” they said.

Now living in Queensland, Stewart enjoys discussing his past achievements with another Australian swimming legend and fellow Dolphin – Tracy Wickham who just happens to live next door.

Brett Reid, Paul Cross, Patrick Donachie and Stewart Pike, shared a special moment during the Sydney 2000 Paralympics that has bonded these 4 swimmers together as friends (Amigo’s) for life.  Wherever their lives take them they will always be connected by that Gold medal and World record breaking performance.  The Awesome Amigo’s.

Sydney 2000 Paralympics – Athletics

Athletics was the biggest sport at Sydney 2000 Paralympics and the largest component of the Australian team with 70 athletes, of which 11 athletes had an intellectual disability.

Australia finished on top of the Athletics medal tally with 35 Gold, 15 Silver and 16 Bronze medals.

Our star of the track was clearly Lisa Llorens with 3 Gold (200m, long jump and high jump) and one Silver (100m) medal.  Lisa was the fourth highest medal tally by an Australian at the Games behind Siobhan Paton (6 Gold), Tim Sullivan (5 Gold), Neil Fuller (4 Gold and 1 Bronze).

Lisa entered the Games as the World record holder in all of her events.  Lisa dominated the 200m and long jump events breaking the World record 3 times in the long jump final.  In the High jump it was the narrowest of victories – 1cm and in the 100m it was down to the thousands of a second.

Our 2 other gold medals came from Paul Mitchell in the 1500m and Anton Flavel in the Javelin.

Mitchell also the World record holder led his race from the start finishing 6 seconds clear in a time just outside his World record.

Flavel threw 52.50m to win the Javelin by 2 metres from Mexico’s Jesus Lucero.

The Athletics competition started on Day 2 Friday 20 October and concluded on the last day Sunday 29 October.  While it is traditional at some Games to have the marathon as the last event, suchj was the enormity of the athletics program that field events were also conducted on the last day.  Three athletes Norma Koplick, Madeleine Ehlers and Tanya Krome all competing. Krome was the best placed Australian in 4th place with Koplick 6th and Ehlers 7th.  All three also competed in the Javelin where Koplick collected a Silver medal

Sharon Rackham collected a Silver medal in the women’s 200m to add to the Gold medals she won at the 1996 Paralympics 1998 IPC World Championships.

Andrew Newell was our only other multiple medallist collecting 2 Bronze medals in the 100m and 400m events.

Sixteen year old Murray Goldfinch, one of the tallest athletes in the team collected a Bronze in the men’s shot put.  Goldfinch would go on to win several World Championships and set the World record for the shotput.

Patricia Flavel (Whittaker) collected a Bronze in the women’s 800m.

Dean Turner competed in the 100m and Long jump events reaching the final of both.

Australia lead the world in Athletics, and while it was largely seen through the athletes performances, it was also a credit to the High Performance program and coaching staff that guided and coached the  athletes to this level.

Many athletes talk about the Sydney Paralympics as being the meet where they felt equal with the more fancied and higher profiled Olympians.  But for the Australians, they had been treated this way by these coaches and a high performance program that looked on them as elite athletes, not athletes with a disability.

The legacy of this period and these athletes and coaches is seen in the list of athletes that still today hold Australian records.

 

Lisa Llorens      100m                  12.44
200m                 25.01    (Current Virtus World Record)
Long Jump        5.43m
High jump         1.55m

Paul Mitchell     800m                 1:54.70
1500m               3:56.00
5000m              15:04.01
10,000m            32:16.85

Andrew Newell  100m               11.08
200m               22.22
400m               49.12

Dean Turner      Triple Jump       11.90m

Murray Goldfinch Discus            39.60m

Anton Flavel      Javelin              53.84m
High Jump        1.69m

Patricia Flavel   400m                61.63
800m                2:11.52
1500m              4:45.65
3000m              10:32.94

Tanya Krome     Discus               35.06m

Norma Koplich  Javelin              33.93m

 

Sydney Paralympics Athletics Results

Men Event Position Result
Anton FLAVEL (ACT)  Shot Put – Para-Athletics 9 Final 9th 9.25m
Javelin Throw – Para-Athletics 1 Final 1st 52.50 Gold
Murray GOLDFINCH (ACT)  Shot Put – Para-Athletics 3 Final 3rd 12.22m Bronze
Javelin Throw – Para-Athletics 7 Final 7th 30.57m
Paul MITCHELL (WA)  400 metres – Para-Athletics 11 Ht3 4th 52.68
1500 metres – Para-Athletics 1 Final 1st 3:57.23 Gold
Andrew NEWELL (NSW)  100 metres – Para-Athletics 3 Ht2 2nd 11.08(-0.2);

Final 3rd 11.11(+0.2)

Bronze
400 metres – Para-Athletics 3 Ht2 1st 49.77;

Final 3rd 49.33

Bronze
Dean TURNER (NSW)  100 metres – Para-Athletics 12 Ht1 3rd 11.48(+0.8)
Long Jump – Para-Athletics 8 Final 8th 5.99m(-0.0)
Madelyn EHLERS (Qld)  Shot Put – Para-Athletics 7 Final 7th 8.54m
Javelin Throw – Para-Athletics 6 Final 6th 21.79m
Patricia ‘Trish’ FLAVEL (ACT)  800 metres – Para-Athletics 3 Final 3rd 2:16.68 Bronze
Norma KOPLICK (Qld)  Shot Put – Para-Athletics 6 Final 6th 9.01m
Javelin Throw – Para-Athletics (F20) 2 Final 2nd 33.93m Silver
Tanya KROME (Qld)  Shot Put – Para-Athletics (F20) 4 Final 4th 10.06m
Javelin Throw – Para-Athletics 4 Final 4th 27.08m
Lisa LLORENS (ACT)  100 metres – Para-Athletics 2 Final 2nd 12.42(+2.1) Silver
200 metres – Para-Athletics 1 Ht2 1st 26.40(0.0);

Final 26.08(+0.4)

Gold
High Jump – Para-Athletics 1 Final 1st 1.54m Gold
Long Jump – Para-Athletics 1 Final 1st 5.43m(+0.9) Gold
Sharon RACKHAM (ACT)  100 metres – Para-Athletics 4 Final 4th 13.21(+2.1)
200 metres – Para-Athletics 2 Ht2 2nd 27.34(-0.5);

Final 2nd 26.92(+0.4)

Silver
High Jump – Para-Athletics 7 Final DNS
Long Jump – Para-Athletics 8 Final 8th 4.10m(-0.9)

 

OUR QUEEN OF THE TRACK – Sydney 2000 Paralympics – Lisa Llorens

If Siobhan Paton was the Queen of the Pool, then fellow ACT athlete Lisa Llorens was our Queen of the Track.

Lisa developed an interest in high jump while at primary school, so it was off to little athletics she went and so began a journey that has seen her travel the world, win multiple gold medals, set World records, learn life skills and brought her many rewards.

The journey started like it does for so many athletes in primary school, then little athletics, high school and senior athletics.

It was during an Athletics ACT competition in 1993 that Lisa recorded a performance in the high jump that was better than the current World record.  It seems strange to suggest that this talented young 15 year old was a potential Paralympic athlete, after all she was already the best in the world in her event.

Lisa became involved in the Athletics Australia Paralympic Preparation program, a year later she was off to Berlin for the World Championships where she finished 2nd in the 200m and long jump events. In 1996 she travelled to Atlanta with training partner Sharon Rackham for their first Paralympics to compete in the 200m and long jump events.  Rackham won the 200m with Lisa third.  The long jump would see this potential Paralympian not only become a Paralympian within three years, but a Paralympic Gold medallist.

1997 saw Lisa win 4 Gold medals in the 100m, 200m, long jump and high jump events in Birmingham.  In 1998 she won three World Championship events in the 100m, long jump and high jump.  1999 she travelled to Seville, Spain for the Virtus World Championships, Lisa won the 200m, the long jump and the high jump and finished second behind Poland’s Margorzata Kleeman in the 100m.

By the time the Sydney 2000 Paralympics had come around Lisa Llorens was a champion athlete she had travelled the world, won world titles and was the World record holder in the 100m, 200m, high jump and long jump.

Lisa’s first event in Sydney was the 100m she was up against Margorzata Kleeman from Poland. There were no preliminary rounds and Lisa was determined to make amends for her loss a year earlier in Seville.  Starting in lane 9 Lisa got off to a slow start finding herself 5 metres  behind Kleeman after 50m. Lisa finished strongly and amazingly recorded the same time as Kleeman 12.42, but on the photo finish was shown in second place, just thousands of a second separating these two amazing athletes.

The 200m saw Lisa a clear winner with Rackham second, competing in the Long jump she broke her own World record 3 times again a clear winner.  But it was in the High jump, her favourite event that started this journey that Lisa almost suffered a surprise loss.

“I was in a tie with Kazumi Sakai from Japan, I was under a lot of pressure from people expecting me to win gold, Sakai was much smaller than me so I couldn’t let her beat me.” Lisa said

Lisa did win but by the smallest of margins in a high jump just 1 cm, Lisa clearing 1.54m with Sakai 2nd with 1.53m.

The home Games were an amazing experience for Lisa “It was totally amazing, it was home in Australia, it was like nothing else I had ever experienced in my life, being surrounded by friends.  Lisa said.

Lisa has many fond memories of the Games most importantly being treated like Olympic athletes, Lisa felt more recognised and accepted.

A very focussed athlete, Lisa sets herself goals to be the best she can be.  She retired from Athletics a few years after Sydney and has taken up Ballet, Archery and Taekwondo, and as she has throughout her sporting life is still driven to be the best she can be.

Lisa has an affinity with animals and the Cheetah in particular, she saw synergies with the Cheetah, speed and agility.  For several years Lisa worked and volunteered at National Zoo and Aquarium and became very attached to the Cheetahs.

Her successes in Athletics have provided Lisa with many opportunities and honours, she received an OAM in 1997 and was named ACT’s Young Sportsperson of the year.  In 2016 she was inducted into the Virtus Hall of Fame.

 “Sport has taught me many lessons, my successes have helped my self esteem which plays a big part in how you feel and how you treat others.  When you feel good about yourself you treat others better and make friends easier” Lisa said.

Lisa’s performances have stood the test of time, she still holds the Virtus World record for the 200m and Australian records for the 100m, 200m, long jump and high jump events.  Whatever turn Lisa’s journey takes her on, you can be assured Lisa will still be driven to be the best she can be.

OUR QUEEN OF THE POOL – Sydney 2000 Paralympics – Siobhan Paton


A young girl growing up in NSW with a connective tissue disorder (Ehlers-Danlos syndrome) Siobhan Paton was encouraged to take up swimming to stop her joints from going soft and a life in a wheel chair.  So it was off to learn to swim classes.

Like many swimmers Siobhan progressed from the learn to swim classes to join a swim club and started swimming competitively.  Siobhan joined Bomaderry Swimming Club and started swimming under the guidance of club coach Greg Fowler.

It didn’t take long for Siobhan to show signs of talent.  Siobhan remembers being the youngest club member to reach NSW Country Championships.   Fowler also noticed that Siobhan was struggling at times with instructions and so he encouraged her mother to have Siobhan undergo some tests.   Fowler’s thoughts were confirmed and a whole new world was about to open up for this talented young swimmer.

Siobhan Paton poses with the 6 gold medals she won at the 2000 summer Paralympics. Paton was named the 2000 Australian Paralympian of the Year for her achievements.

Siobhan competed at her first nationals at 14 years of age in 1997, she won 7 gold medals and a silver.  That year she was a was awarded the Developing Paralympian of the Year Award.

1998 started off much like the previous year, back at Nationals she won another 7 gold and a bronze medal at 15 years of age.  Later that year she was selected in her first Australian team and off to Christchurch New Zealand for the IPC Swimming World Championships where she won 5 Gold 1 Silver and a Bronze medal.

For her achievements she was named as the 1998 Junior Paralympian of the Year.

With the Sydney Paralympics less than two years away the family made the decision to move to Canberra to support Siobhan and her sisters swimming.  In Canberra, Siobhan would have access to the ACTAS and AIS swim squads and meet her new swim coach Peter Freney.  Siobhan also struck up a close relationship with Freney’s daughter Jaqueline, who a few years after Siobhan would establish herself as our queen of the pool and break Siobhan’s record winning 8 Gold medals at the London Paralympics.

It was a timely move for the Paton’s, by the time 2000 came around Siobhan had finally settled into a school where she was supported and felt at home, she found herself a great coach and supportive swimming environment.

Despite having represented Australia internationally twice in England and in New Zealand and having won multiple gold medals and established World records along the way, when it came time for the Paralympics, Siobhan didn’t comprehend what all the fuss was about when she was selected for her first Paralympics.  “I didn’t really comprehend it, I knew I was representing Australia at home, but it was just another swim meet” Siobhan said.

Ever humble Siobhan described her performance that week as “I am just another swimmer who had a really good week.”

To be fair the Paralympics went to another level in Sydney, it was not just another swim meet and Siobhan was not just another swimmer.

Siobhan’s “really good week” saw her compete in seven events, winning 6 Gold medals and breaking 9 World Records along the way.  She was Australia’s most outstanding athlete at the Games and was acknowledged as the 2000 Paralympian of the Year.  Siobhan was lauded at street parades and had a stamp made in her honour.

There was one event Siobhan did not expect to win, and it is her favourite medal from the Games.  “After the heat of the 50m freestyle one of the swimmers refused to shake my hand, it wasn’t the right thing to do.   In the final I was in 5th place after 25 metres and I was driven to beat her, I could hear the crowd chanting “Go, Go, Go.”  Siobhan said.

Siobhan won that event, broke the Games record and was 2 hundreths of a second off the World record, she remembers that win as her favourite, largely because she didn’t expect to win it.

Siobhan has many other memories of the Games, hitting the wall with her head in the 50m butterfly, the disappearance of Bruce the Moose, sleeping during her days off and the food.

Surprisingly Siobhan’s coach Peter Freney wasn’t part of the Australian team, but he did find a way to motivate Siobhan from a far.  “My coach had a bet with me, a packet of Tim Tams for every Gold medal.” Paton said, a bet she did collect on.

Siobhan still holds 3 Australian records for the 400m freestyle, 2000m butterfly and 400m individual medley.

Life after the Paralympics wasn’t as rosy for Siobhan, she enjoyed the accolades and opportunities it provided and continued swimming winning 5 Gold and a Silver medal at the IPC World Championships in Argentina in 2002, 6 Gold and 2 Silver at the IPC World Championships in Hong Kong in 2004 and finally 3 Gold, 2 Silver and 3 Bronze medals at the 2004 Global Games in Sweden.

Following the IPC ban, Siobhan had lost her love for swimming, she was no longer that young girl that ate and breathed swimming.  “I just didn’t want to be there anymore, I wanted to move on with my life.” Siobhan said.

Given her state of mind and commitment to training, Siobhan’s performances in 2004 are simply amazing.

Reflecting back on Sydney  “If I did my best on the day and they beat me I wouldn’t be upset because they would have to do their best.” Siobhan said.

Today Siobhan is a full time carer for her mum, she still lives in Canberra and has enjoyed remembering the Sydney Paralympics and what she has achieved thanks to her talents and the support of so many who made sacrifices and helped her achieve.

We shouldn’t forget that  during the Sydney 2000 Paralympics and all of the hysteria that continued in 2000, Siobhan Paton was not just the Queen of the Pool or Paralympian of the Year, she was also a 17 year old school girl finishing Year 12 at St Clares College in Canberra.

Siobhan remains an inspiration to so many and even though the Sydney Paralyympics were 20 years ago, she remains our Queen of the pool.

Looking back at the 2019 Virtus (Inas) Global Games – Table Tennis

History was made in Brisbane with the first single class Factor 20 event sanctioned by International Table Tennis Federation, ITTF.

Twenty (20) countries entered their best players in the competition and justified the support of the ITTF in sanctioning the Table Tennis competition at the Games.

With the world’s best players in action officials and spectators were treated to some amazing table tennis competition during the week.

France dominated Table Tennis fielding strong teams in all 3 categories and finished on top of the Table Tennis medal Table with 7 Gold, 6 Silver and 8 Bronze medals. Russia finishing second with 3 gold medals and Japan third with 2 Gold, 1 Silver and 3 Bronze medals.

Host nation Australia fielded a small team of 4 men (Sam von Einem, Rory Carroll, Jonathon Tan and Ashley Parrott) in the II-1 Singles, Doubles and Teams events, winning 1 Gold, 1 Silver and a Bronze and finishing 4th on the medal table.

The men’s II-1 singles final was a battle between the World number 2 Peter Palos (Hungary) and World number 4 Sam von Einem (Australia). Playing some of his best table tennis, von Einem overcame World number 3 player Lucas Creange (France) in the semi final, while Palos also had a tough game against World number 7 Takeshi Takemori. The final was a close match and thankfully for the local crowd, a victory for the Australian.

Von Einem then paired with fellow Australian Rory Carroll to win Silver in the teams and Bronze in the Doubles events.

Women’s World number 1 Elena Pokofeva from Russia took on an unranked player Ting Ting Wong from Hong Kong in the women’s II-1 singles final. It was an incredible achievement for Wong to reach the final defeating many players ranked above her including World number 2 and fellow country woman Mui Wui Ng in the semi final. Pokofeva was too strong in the final showing why she is ranked the World number 1 female table tennis player.

Table Tennis also introduced the Virtus II-2 and II-3 categories for the first time. (Full results attached.)

Competitions were conducted at the Chandler sports complex and the Brisbane Table Tennis Centre.

 

Looking back at the 2019 Virtus (INAS) Global Games

On this day in 2019, 7 days after the Opening Ceremony, the Virtus (INAS) Global Games Brisbane came to a close.

As Sydney did in 2000, Brisbane took the Virtus Global Games to another level and the athletes responded with some outstanding competitions and World records.

The Games was not just about the sport it included, but also included an International Summit with World class speakers such as Andrew Parsons, President International Paralympic Committee(Brazil), Stephen Frost, Founder of Frost Included,(England), Catherine Carty UNESCO Chair Manager(Ireland), Professor Jennifer MacTavish, Dean of Yeates School, Ryerson (Canada), Professor Jan Burns, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Canterbury University, Katie Kelly, Paralympic Gold Medallist OAM, Dr Jonathon Welch, Choir of Hard Knocks, Kate Palmer AM CEO of Sport Australia, Lynne Anderson, CEO of Paralympics Australia.

The support of the Brisbane City Council, Queensland and Federal Governments was incredible.

Brisbane saw nine new countries competing for the first time – Colombia, Indonesia, Israel, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, People’s Republic of China, Sri Lanka and Singapore.

Other activities included an Arts and culture program and school activation programs for months leading into the Games.  Sports of Australian Rules Football (AFL) and Netball also joined the Games as exhibition sports, showcasing the ability of athletes to the World.

As the Local Organising committee we established bold objectives to challenge perceptions, change attitudes and strengthen communities both locally and globally

With the support of all involved and the performances of the athletes leading into, during and post the Games we believe we reached our goals and left a lasting legacy for elite athletes with an intellectual impairment.

In Swimming, we saw 25 World records broken at the Chandler Aquatic Centre.  Athletics added another 4 World records.

Table Tennis obtained the first ever single class factor status from the International Table Tennis Federation, International governing bodies such as World Para Athletics, World Para Swimming, International Table Tennis Federation, International Tennis, International Taekwondo sanctioned events at the Games.  All sports were run by state and National sporting organisations.

At the Opening ceremony President of the International Paralympic Committee Andrew Parsons announced “ INAS is a part of the Paralympic family and I look forward to more events in more sports being included into the Paralympic Games.”  and then he sent a message during the Games  ‘ I have been following the Games through social media and it looks fantastic.  Very good job.  You should be proud, you are raising the bar for the next organiser.”

After an action packed week we watched the Games come to an end at the State Netball Centre with the finals of the men’s and women’s Basketball.

INAS, the Governing body launched a bold new brand – Virtus, based on the values and emblem comprising four elements that characterize athletes with an intellectual impairment – Character, Excellence, Courage and Integrity.

As we remember the 2019 Virtus Global Games, we also look forward to the next Virtus Global Games to be held in Vichy France in 2023

 

The Games at a Glance

  • International Sport Summit
  • Arts and Culture Program
  • Opening Ceremony
  • AFL
  • Athletics
  • Basketball
  • Cricket
  • Cycling
  • Futsal
  • Rowing
  • Swimming
  • Table Tennis
  • Taekwondo-Poomsae
  • Tennis
  • Closing Ceremony
  • 48 Countries
  • Nine new countries
  • Just under 1000 athletes

Ambassadors

  • Pat Rafter
  • Jeff Horn
  • Daniel Fox

12-19 October 2019 Brisbane

www.gg2019.org
www.virtus.sport