Everything you need to know about the 2023 World Abilitysport Games
The 2023 World Abilitysport Games are set to open in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, from 3 December.
Featuring archery, athletics, badminton, track and road cycling, powerlifting, shooting, snooker, swimming, table tennis and wheelchair fencing – and pétanque, thakraw and E-sports as demonstration sports – competitions will be shown live at the World Abilitysport website between 4-8 December.
With some events also part of the road to the Paris 2024 Paralympics, check out who, and what, to look out for.
Top quality track stars
Thailand will use the track at His Majesty the King’s 80 Birthday Anniversary Sports Complex to show their talent, especially in wheelchair racing.
Local legend Prawat Wahoram will be one of the stand-out athletes competing for the host country. Wahoram has amassed an incredible seven gold, eight silver and one bronze at the Paralympics in the men’s T54 – medalling at every Paralympics since Sydney 2000. This success makes him Thailand’s most decorated Paralympian.
Making an appearance alongside Wahoram will be teammate – and rival – Athiwat Paeng-Nuea, the men’s 100m T54 Paralympic and world champion and 400m silver medallist from Tokyo 2020 and the 2023 World Championships in Paris, France.
Pongsakorn Paeyo, the men’s 100m, 400m and 800m T53 Paralympic champion and 100m and 400m world champion enters Nakhon Ratchasima 2023 in great form after setting a new 400m word record of 46.11 at the Worlds.
India, who are also fielding a large field of athletes, will look to Yogesh Kathuniya to impress on the field as the men’s shot put F56 Paralympic silver medallist.
And in race-running, relative newcomer Deividas Podobajevas is already among the fastest in the world. In July, the Lithuanian placed fourth in the T72 100m at the World Championships. He has also made an impression over the longer distances by setting the world’s fastest 800m time this year.
Supporting Para sport in Asia
Past editions of the World Abilitysport Games – previously known as the IWAS World Games – have a strong focus on development and Nakhon Ratchasima 2023 will be no different.
Whilst countries like Thailand and India will send the biggest teams – and some of their biggest names – the Games are a platform for all nations and sports.
Track and road cycling will make their Games debut and will feature cyclists from Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile the entry lists for swimming and archery are filled with athletes from Asian countries.
Swimmers from Thailand, Indonesia, India and Hong Kong will take to the water at the Aquatics Centre at the King’s 80th Birthday Complex. Archery will offer athletes from Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Iraq, South Korea, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates the chance to perfect their aim.
Sodnompiljee Enkhbayar of Mongolia became his country’s first Paralympic champion in powerlifting at Tokyo 2020, claiming his country’s second historic gold across all sports.
He did so in the men’s up to 107kg but was unsuccessful in a world record attempt. Enkhbayar will be in action in Thailand alongside a series of other male and female lifters competing across weight categories.
Stars out to shine in badminton, shooting, table tennis
This trio of sports has attracted a particularly stellar field of athletes competing on their road to Paris 2024.
In shooting Para sport, Veronica Vadovicova has won six Paralympic medals since Beijing 2008. The Slovakian continued her run at Tokyo 2020, claiming victory in R6 (mixed 50m rifle prone SH1), and will be in Thailand preparing for more.
In badminton, India’s Sujirat Pookkham enters as the women’s singles WH1 silver medallist from Tokyo 2020. Dheva Anrimusthi of Indonesia will be looking for more success on the court after winning gold at the recent Asia Para Games. Currently world ranked No.2 in the SU5 category, Anrimusthi has an impressive list of achievements which include winning 3 world titles and a Paralympic silver medal at Tokyo 2020.
And in table tennis, two Polish players are hoping to headline at the Central Plaza in Nakhon Ratchasima. Maksym Chudzicki and Rafal Czuper both landed on the podium in Tokyo in the men’s singles class 7 and 2, respectively.
Iraq’s Naijah Al-Dayyeni comes to the Games in fantastic form after taking gold at the Asian Para Games in the singles class 6 event. Al-Dayynei, who is currently ranked world No.5, has set her sights on competing at next year’s Paralympic Games in Paris.
Fencers to close year in style
Speaking of Paris 2024, competition at the 2023 World Abilitysport Games has extra significance for wheelchair fencers as the event will be the last World Cup of the year.
It follows editions in the USA, Italy, Poland, France and South Korea. Athletes have the chance to win crucial qualification points for the upcoming Paralympics. Perhaps this is why an impressive field of world and Paralympic champions and medallists from countries like China, Brazil, France, Great Britain, Italy and Poland are all planning their trip.
There is however only one athlete that the local crowds will be interested in: Saysunee Jana.
Jana is one of the most successful and impressive international fencers in the history of the sport. Unbeaten in the women’s epee category B since 2020, Jana is the current world champion and has won a medal at every Paralympics since Athens 2004.
The World Abilitysport Games are not just about Paralympic sports…they also have a long history of showcasing other Para sports too.
One of those being given a platform in Nakhon Ratchasima is snooker. Thirty-six players from eight countries will line-up in individual events according to five classification groups. Each has a high-quality field and will feature at least one former World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) champion. with 12 former winners in total. No fewer than 21 currently ranked WDBS players will compete and will be joined by 16 international players from around the world.
These include England’s Tony Southern, who competed in his first world tour competition in 2017 and has gone on to win four event titles. He is currently ranked world number world No.1 in the Group 1-2 category.
Demonstration events in pétanque, thakraw and E-sports are also offered at Nakhon Ratchasima 2023 by the Local Organising Committee. These reflect the most popular sports in Thailand and give organisers the chance to show them off.