Ready? IWAS World Games 2022 set to dazzle
The International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) World Games 2022 will get underway in Vila Real de Santo Antonio, Portugal, from Friday (25 November), featuring nearly 500 of the world’s best and up-and-coming Para athletes with physical impairments.
Competition begins on Saturday (26 November) and continues until 28 November in three sports – athletics, swimming and powerlifting.
Powerlifting will be broadcast live from 26 and 27 November at the IWAS Facebook page, alongside live results here.
Swimming results will be available after the end of competition each day here.
Athletics results will be published here.
Pictures will be available for editorial and social media use here.
Designed to give aspiring Paralympians and emerging athletes their first taste of international competition, the Games have helped produce many of the world’s big name stars.
It is the formula of established athletes competing against the next generation that makes the IWAS World Games so unique and helped it to develop into one of the world’s largest sporting events for athletes with physical impairments.
Athletics is the biggest sport on the programme with 300 athletes going for the podium across track and field events.
On paper Algeria are the strongest team with seven podium finishers from the most recent Paralympics at Tokyo 2020.
The country historically excels in the field events and Vila Real de Santo Antonio is unlikely to be any different.
Asmahane Boudjahar and Safia Dejelal are the Paralympic champions in the women’s shot put F33 and F57, respectively.
Boudjahar retained her title from Rio 2016 in Japan whilst Dejelal topped her first podium. Dejelal is also the silver medallist in the javelin F57 from London 2012.
Nassima Saifi finished out of the medals behind Dejelal in the shot put last year but did claim silver in the discus F57. And Mounia Gasmi grabbed bronze, also in the shot put, in the F32.
In the men’s, over on the track, Abdelkrim Krai returns as the silver medallist from the 1,500m T38.
On the field Kamel Kardjena and Walid Ferhah are the current shot put F33 and club throw F32 silver and bronze medallists.
Staying in Africa, Mauritius are fielding two Paralympians: Marie Emmanuelle Noemi Alphonse and Marie Emmanuelle Noemi Angeline. Alphonse will race in the women’s 100m, 400m, 800m, 1,500m and 5000m T54 whilst Angeline will compete in the women’s 100m, 200m, and long jump T37.
Leading the field for Poland are another golden duo: Roza Kozakowska and Renata Sliwinska.
Kozakowska is a rival to Algeria’s Gasmi in the women’s club throw F32 having won gold at Tokyo 2020. The Pole, who made her Paralympic debut last year, is also a podium finisher from the shot put.
Sliwinska is the women’s shot put F40 Paralympic title-holder.
Highlighting the Latvian team is triple men’s discus F52 Paralympic champion Aigars Apinis.
Apinis won his first discus gold at Athens 2004, following that up at Beijing 2008 and reclaiming the title he then lost at London 2012, at Rio 2016.
He lost it once again at Tokyo 2020 but still left with bronze, proving he is still amongst the best in the world.
For the Americas, Ecuador’s Kiara Rodriguez achieved a dream debut at Tokyo 2020, winning bronze in the women’s long jump T46, and hope also to leap on the IWAS World Games podium.
Around 40 powerlifters will line-up on the bench of the IWAS World Games 2022.
Algeria’s medal hopes continue in the powerlifting with Hoccine Bettir. Bettir claimed bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics after making his Paralympic debut at Rio 2016.
Now firmly on the road to Paris 2024, the Algerian will be eyeing up a silver or even gold in the men’s up to 65kg.
Bettir also arrives in Portugal as the reigning world champion having collected his first title in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 2021. He finally got his hands on the gold after securing bronze and then silver in 2017 and 2019, respectively.
Whilst not a Paralympic medallist, Simone Fragoso delivers an interesting story. Not only is she competing for the host country Portugal, Fragoso also switched to powerlifting after competing in Para swimming at Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016.
And the United Arab Emirates’ duo of Ahmad Khamis Albaloushi and Mohammed Khamis Khalaf will compete in the men’s over 107kg and up to 97kg. Khalaf is an old-hand on the bench having competed at Sydney 2000 whilst Albaloushi has two Paralympics under his belt from 2016 and 2020.
Swimming will feature 60 athletes.
Zulfiya Gabidullina is a national hero in her home country having won Kazakhstan’s first ever Paralympic gold medal at Rio 2016 in the women’s 100m freestyle.
Competing in the women’s S4 events, Gabidullina is also a regular feature at the IWAS World Games. At the 2013 edition, she broke the 50m, 100m, and 200m freestyle world records and left with four golds and two silvers.
Do not be surprised if the Kazakh swimmer lands on the podium more than once at Vila Real de Santo Antonio 2022.
Part of a team of six Estonian athletes overall from swimming, athletics and powerlifting, Matz Topkin is following in the footsteps of some great Estonian IWAS World Games performances.
In 2013 Kardo Ploomipuu set a new men’s 50m backstroke S10 world record and is a serial medallist across editions.
Topkin himself made his Paralympic debut at Tokyo 2020 last year in the men’s 50m freestyle and 50m backstroke S4.
You can catch him in those two events as well as the 50m butterfly and 150m individual medley SM4 at Vila Real de Santo Antonio 2022.
Another athlete to compete at the IWAS World Games having made their Paralympic debut last year is Latvia’s Jurijs Semjonovs.
Semjonovs previously experienced success on the international stage. He won a European title in the men’s 100m backstroke S8 and bronze in the 100m breaststroke SB7 in 2018.
He will get a shot at the podium in the men’s 50m, 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle, the 50m and 100m backstroke and the 50m butterfly at Vila Real de Santo Antonio 2022.