With 500 days to go until the 2019 International Federation for Athletes with Intellectual Impairments (INAS) Global Games, US swimmer Leslie Cichocki believes she can win her first gold medals at the event.
Being staged in Brisbane, Australia, between 11-20 October, the Global Games will take place just under one year ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Cichocki, who claimed three silvers and a bronze at the 2015 edition, has recently changed clubs. She now has her eye on her first titles with her times rapidly improving.
“I absolutely think I can win gold especially after switching to a swim club that has coaches who are better with me and help me more with my technique,” Cichocki said. “Since joining my current team, I have gotten my personal best times in most of my events.”
Cichocki made history in 2016 when she became the first swimmer with an intellectual impairment to compete for the USA at a Paralympic Games.
Instead of keeping that incredible achievement to herself, the 29-year-old has used it inspire the next generation.
“It was greatest experience of my life,” she said. “I am able to tell my teammates about my experiences which helps encourage them to try as hard as they can.”
In the build-up to the INAS Global Games Cichocki may also compete at the 2018 INAS Open Swimming Championships (Americas) in Santiago del Estero, Argentina, from 29 August – 2 September.
If she swims, Cichocki wants to build on her performance from the 2017 INAS Swimming Championships. There she won four silver and five bronze medals.
All of this goes towards her ultimate aim of competing at Tokyo 2020 and beyond. Cichocki wants to swim at the highest levels for as long as she can.
Having started the sport at the age of five, Cichocki has gone on to be one of the top-ranked swimmers. Her highest placing in the World Para Swimming rankings is currently fifth in the 100m backstroke S14. She also has a sprinkling of other top 10 and top 20 places across strokes and distances.
“I think swimming a great way to learn about life especially self-discipline and it helps keep me organised,” Cichocki said.
About the 2019 INAS Global Games
The INAS Global Games will feature athletics, basketball, swimming, table tennis, futsal, indoor and outdoor rowing, road cycling, taekwondo and tennis. Competition runs from 11-20 October.
The event always takes place in the year ahead of the Paralympic Games. Many medallists have used the Global Games as a springboard, going onto make the podium at the Paralympics. For those athletes competing in non-Paralympic sports it is the highest level they can reach.
More information is available at the INAS Global Games page of inas.org.