Rising Phoenix: Documentary to feature Paralympic and IWAS stars


On Wednesday 26 August ‘Rising Phoenix’, a ground-breaking movie about the Paralympic Movement, will premiere in over 190 countries worldwide on Netflix.

The film release was planned to coincide with Tokyo 2020 but will now form an important part of the celebrations leading up to the Paralympic Games next year.

Featuring Paralympians from across the world, Rising Phoenix tells the extraordinary story of the Paralympic Games. From the rubble of World War II to the third biggest sporting event on the planet, along the way sparking a global movement which continues to change the way the world thinks about disability, diversity and human potential.

Superstar athletes profiled include a series of Paralympic champions and medallists who began their careers or competed at International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) competitions.

Bebe Vio gets ready to strike

Italian fencer Beatrice Vio shot to fame at the Rio 2016 Paralympics when she won gold in the women’s foil category B on her debut at the tender age of 19. The Italian began her rise to the top in 2012, quickly making her way onto the podium at IWAS Wheelchair Fencing Grand Prix and World Cups.

Her latest triumph came at the 2019 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Championships when she won her third consecutive foil title in Cheongju, South Korea.

Like many of the world’s leading Para athletes, South African sprinter Ntando Mahlangu’s first taste of success came at the 2015 IWAS World Junior Games in Stadskanaal, the Netherlands.

Winning gold in the 200m T42, he would go on to claim another four IWAS youth titles the following year as well as his spectacular silver medal at Rio 2016.

Ntando Mahlangu running

Seven-time Paralympic champion Tatyana McFadden began her incredible career in the early 2000s. Competing at her first Paralympic Games at Athens 2004 at the age of 15, the US wheelchair racer would also make a stop at the 2008 IWAS World Junior Games at home in New Jersey where she won multiple golds.

Great Britain’s Jonnie Peacock featured at the 2010 junior Games in Olomouc, Czech Republic, where he took silver in the 100m T44. He would go on to win his first Paralympic title at London 2012 and defend it at Rio 2016.

The World Junior Games in Dublin, Ireland, in 2006 and New Jersey 2008 were the stage for France’s Jean-Baptiste Alaize to claim multiple medals on the track and field. This included long jump gold in 2008. Alaize would go onto to take bronze at the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships in London, Great Britain, as well as competing at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Other athletes to feature in Rising Phoenix are Australia’s Ellie Cole and Ryley Batt, the USA’s Matt Stutzman, and China’s Cui Zhe.

How IWAS helps athletes chasing greatness

Rising Phoenix will take viewers through the history of the Paralympic Movement.

Founded by German-born doctor Sir Ludwig Guttmann, the Paralympics began life as the International Stoke Mandeville Games in the 1950s. Overseen by various organisations over the years, the Games have transformed into the world’s biggest sport event for social change.

IWAS is a founding member of the movement as a direct descendent from the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation and International Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Sports Federation.

Today IWAS organises the World Games and World Youth Games, where champions are born. Designed to give aspiring Paralympians their first taste of international competition, the Games have helped produce many of the world’s best Para athletes.

In 2021 IWAS will hold the first edition of the Guttmann Games. Continuing the legacy of Sir Ludwig Guttmann, the Games aim to showcase sports and events not currently on the Paralympic programme.