By UK Sports Association
Four athletes will compete on the track and field as well as on two wheels for Great Britain at the 2019 International Federation for Athletes with Intellectual Impairments (INAS) Global Games in Brisbane, Australia, from 12-19 October.
The athletics and cycling teams, announced by INAS member the UK Sports Association (UKSA), will feature international debutants as well as seasoned competitors.
Kiera Byland will take to the road – and track – in what will be track cycling’s first appearance on the INAS Global Games programme.
Byland is the reigning road world champion in the women’s time trial and road race. She collected both golds at the 2018 INAS European Summer Games in Paris, France, which acted as the World Championships for cycling.
Byland said: “I’m looking forward to seeing other athletes from different countries again and being involved in my first Global Games. I am going there to win and to defend my current cycling titles as a Women’s World and European Champion. I want to make sure that there is a route for cyclists who have learning disability to compete at this level. I want to inspire them and show that you have to train and commit just as much time and hard work to your sport as mainstream athletes. This is just a different route to compete.”
Lauren Booth will launch her international career in the women’s alongside Byland.
Booth said: “I’m really pleased and proud to have the chance to race in a GB [Great Britain] kit. I’d love to win a medal. Being part of the team will be fun. It’s really important that cyclists with a learning disability are given the chance to race for GB and show that we can be included in events like the Global Games.”
The cycling team will be led by Tom A’ Hara and athletics by Tommy Patterson.
In athletics, multi-medallists Declan Manning and Sam Fernando will fly the British colours.
Manning secured two European bronze medals in the discus and hammer in Paris last year. Fernando won gold in the steeplechase and bronze in the 10,000m.
“It is a great honour to be selected for the Global Games as it shows all the hard work is paying off. I am hoping to build on my success of last summer at the INAS European Games in Paris. I have dedicated several years of training to achieve my selection. Without UKSA supporting learning disability athletes none of this would be possible,” Manning said.
Fernando said: “I’m nervous because I’ve never been to Australia before and I’m a little nervous about my races. I want to do well for my country and my club. I hope to get a medal in the Steeplechase. The 10,000m may be more difficult if there are lots of good people there. UKSA is the only way I can get international competition as my events are not available in other international competition.”
Tracey McCillen, UKSA Chief Executive, said “Congratulations to all four competitors. It wasn’t an easy task to qualify for selection, they have worked hard, and have big ambitions with medals firmly in their sights. I have no doubt they will represent Britain well both on and off the field of play. A word of thanks too to the staff supporting the team, all of whom are voluntary – we couldn’t do it without them.
“The Global Games is a world-class event and the pinnacle of success for many athletes especially where the Paralympic Games does not include their event. Our British athletes are well prepared, focused and determined to do well.”
The INAS Global Games are the world’s biggest high performance sports event for athletes with intellectual impairments.
The 2019 edition in Brisbane is expected to attract around 1,000 athletes who will compete in 10 sports between 12-19 October.
Announcements in tennis and cricket in collaboration with the Lawn Tennis Association and England and Wales Cricket Board will follow, according to the UKSA.