Virtus member countries impress at Tokyo 2020

A total of 120 athletes competed in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in the events of the intellectual disability class in three different sports – table tennis para 11, para-swimming class S14, SB14, SM14 and para-athletics T20, F20.

These events have seen many novice athletes return home as proud Paralympians. In Tokyo, 70 male athletes and 50 female athletes participated.

Amid the global pandemic, it was a challenge for many of Virtus’ 90 member countries to field a team due to several restrictions.

Marc Truffaut, President of Virtus (World Intellectual Impairment Sport), said: “We are very proud of every athlete with an intellectual disability who has competed at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. I was impressed to see the outstanding performances of many. new Paralympians in all three sports.


Fifty-six percent of the athletes competed in the S14 swim and were in contention for the 33 Paralympic medals to be won in six events: 100m butterfly men and women, 100m backstroke, 100m breaststroke, 200m freestyle, 200m individual medley and 4×100 mixed freestyle relay. The events were dominated by rookies in the male and female categories.

Paralympic records have been broken consecutively in numerous rounds and new world and Paralympic records have been set in eight of the 11 events in the S14 class.

1. Men’s 100m butterfly: Gabriel Bandeira (Brazil) – New Paralympic record with a time of 54.76.

2. 100m butterfly women: Valeriia Shabalina (Russian Paralympic Committee) – New world and Paralympic record with a time of 1: 03.59.

3. Men’s 100m backstroke: Benjamin Hance (Australia) – New world and Paralympic record with a time of 57.73.

4. Men’s 100m breaststroke: Naohide Yamaguchi (Japan) – New world and Paralympic record with a time of 1: 03.77 sec.

5. 100m breaststroke women: Michelle Alonso Morales (Spain) – New world and Paralympic record with a time of 1: 12.02 sec.

6. Men’s 200m Individual Medley: Reece Dunn (Great Britain) – New world record with a time of 2: 08.02 sec.

7. 200m freestyle men: Reece Dunn (Great Britain) – New world record with a time of 1: 52.40sec.

8. 4x100m Freestyle Relay: Great Britain – Jordan Catchpole, Reece Dunn, Jessica-Jane Applegate, Bethany Firth – New world record with a time of 3: 40.63sec.

ROAD TO THE TITLE: RPC’s Valeriia Shabalina competes in the women’s 200m individual medley swimming final – SM14 at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Male category: Reece Dunn from Great Britain

In his Paralympic debut, Dunn won three gold medals with respective world records, one silver and one bronze.

“I loved it, every second. I swam really well so that’s just a bonus. It’s great to be here and I really had fun, ”said Dunn.

Female category: Valeriia Shabalina of Russia with three gold, one silver and also set a new world record in the process.


Thirty-nine athletes competed in four track and field events – Men’s and Women’s 400m and 1,500m T20, and Men’s and Women’s Long Jump and Shot Put F20.

Ecuador’s Gold medalist Poleth Isamar Mendes Sanchez poses after winning gold in the women’s F20 shot put at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.


1. 400m T20 Women: Breanna Clark (USA) – New world and Paralympic record with a time of 55.18sec.

2. Women’s F20 shot put: Poleth Isamar Mendes Sanchez (Ecuador) – New world and Paralympic record with a distance of 14.39m. Also made history by winning the first Paralympic medal for Ecuador.

3. Men’s shot put F20: Maksym Koval (Ukraine) – New world and Paralympic record with a distance of 17.34 m.

4. Long jump women F20: Karolina Kucharczyk (Poland) – New Paralympic record with a distance of 6.03m.

Karolina Kucharczyk poses after the medal-winning performance.

Kucharczyk said: “I promised my grandfather that I would win gold in Tokyo, but he passed away right after my event in Rio, and I couldn’t even attend his funeral (in 2016) . I went to his grave with the silver medal and promised to turn it into gold. Over the past five years, I have worked very hard to keep my promise. I miss him but I know he was with me at my event.


Twenty athletes from 12 countries competed in the Class 11 event.

On the men’s side, Hungarian Peter Palos became the three-time Paralympic champion by winning the title at Tokyo 2020 against Australia’s Sam Von Einem with a score of 3-2.

“I still don’t know how I managed to win, but here I am again as a Paralympic champion,” he said after the game.

Von Einem won his second Paralympic silver medal at the Games.

“I was happy that I was able to win a medal and play again on the big stage of the final… The money is fantastic. It has been a fantastic week for me. Maybe I’ll take a little break, but I will be looking forward to trying to get there more in Paris 2024, ”said von Einem.

Peter Palos in action.

ITTF world number 1 Elena Prokofeva won 3-1 against young Frenchwoman Lea Ferney for gold. The 41-year-old who made his Tokyo 2020 debut said: “I’ve waited a lot for this day and just did what I had to do.”

Competing in her first Paralympic Games, Ferney was delighted with the money, saying: “I was even surprised to be selected for the Paralympic Games because you have to be the first among everyone in France. I came here to win. I am not disappointed with the money because I bring home a medal. I’m only 17 so this is just the start. I’m not thinking about anything now, I’m just going to celebrate.

With the next Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024, elite athletes with intellectual disabilities from all over the world will have the opportunity to compete on French soil at the Virtus Global Games – Vichy 2023.

It is an international multisport event bringing together thousands of athletes, reigning champions and Paralympians, before Paris 2024.

The Virtus Global Games are held every four years in the year leading up to the Paralympic Games and are the flagship event for athletes with an intellectual disability who wish to compete at the elite level at the international level in more than 10 sports.

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