As Australian officials engage in talks with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over Queensland’s 2032 Olympic Games bid, the world’s best intellectually impaired athletes are preparing to compete in Brisbane.
- The INAS Global Games is the world’s biggest sports event for athletes with an intellectual impairment
- Ipswich talent Archie Graham says he is excited to co-captain the Australian team
- The head of Sports Inclusion Australia thinks the event will boost Brisbane’s Olympic bid
Held every four years, the INAS Global Games will see 1,000 athletes from around 50 countries compete across a range of disciplines including swimming, athletics, cycling, rowing and tennis.
It also features a range of qualifying events for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
“They’re the best athletes with an intellectual impairment across the world,” Robyn Smith, chief executive of the INAS Global Games, told ABC Radio Brisbane’s Kat Feeney.
“Many of them will go to compete at the Paralympics in Tokyo next year, but this is a good stepping stone … and some of the sports aren’t represented at the Paralympic games so the best of the best win those particular sports.”
To qualify for the Global Games, the athletes must meet the World Health Organisation’s definition of intellectual impairment, which is an IQ of 75 or below.
“They have deficits in adaptive behaviours so perhaps living skills, hygiene, a whole range of things where they have a little bit of difficulty and it has to manifest itself before the age of 18,” Ms Smith said.
“These games also incorporate athletes with an intellectual impairment as well as a physical issue.
“There’s many athletes with down syndrome competing at these games, and another classification, II3, is basically athletes with autism.
“So their IQ is above 75, [but] they still have difficulties in some areas of their life but they’re really good at sport.”
Ms Smith, who is also the chief executive of Sport Inclusion Australia, said Australia was leading the way with inclusion and accessibility to elite-level sports.
“They’re training like everybody else. They actually are elite athletes.”
Australia leads inclusive sport
Ms Smith said Australia provided opportunities for the athletes unlike anywhere else.
“Australia has been the leader really in inclusion in sport, providing the opportunities and the training and the integration elements of preparing.
“And therefore, they’ve done really well.
“They’re not sort of having to go elsewhere to do their sport, they’re just doing sport like everyone else.
Among the athletes to represent Australia is Ipswich local and four-time tennis world champion Archie Graham who will co-captain the Australian team.
“It is so exciting to not only represent my country, but the honour of being captain is quite unbelievable,” Graham said.
“I think it’s very good for us people, to have an international para event, it spreads inclusiveness.”
Graham said he had been working very hard to maintain his “back-to-back-to-back” wins.
“I’ve been training very hard, just about six days a week and doing lots off the court as well,” he said.
“It’s a bit hard to say if I’ll win at the moment, but at the moment I think I will.”
As for whether the city should host an Olympic games, Graham said there was no doubt that it should.
“We have a lot of great facilities here, world-class facilities and there’s a lot to see in Brisbane.”
It is the first time the games are being hosted in the southern hemisphere and Ms Smith thinks the event will boost Brisbane’s bid for the 2032 Olympics.
“Highly influential people in the Olympic movement and Paralympic movement will be in attendance,” she said.
“They’ll look at the city and see how friendly and welcoming we are — the great weather, the great venues and I think it’ll help [the Olympic bid].”
The INAS Global Games will be held from October 12 to 19 at various facilities across Brisbane.