The International Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability (Inas) General Assembly is set to take place in Sheffield, England,this weekend.
The four-day event, from Friday (April 10) to Monday (April 13), begins with a meeting of the Inas Governing Board, which will hear key updates on projects including this year’s Global Games in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
This is followed by the Inas Conference, with a focus on growing sport for athletes with an intellectual disability.
Nick Parr, Inas executive director, claims that there has been a decline in participation of athletes with an intellectual disability across many sports in recent years, despite the overall growth in Para-sport.
“Its important that we understand the reasons behind this decline and take steps to reverse the trend,” said Parr.
"There are worldwide opportunities in sports beyond the three that are currently included in the Paralympic Games programme - athletics, swimming and table tennis - for athletes with an intellectual disability, and it’s vital that we promote and support them.”
The highlight of the weekend will arguably be the inaugural Inas Awards, which recognises outstanding performances by athletes with an intellectual disability and the many people that support them.Nominees, together with guests from Great Britain and beyond, will join delegates for the ceremony on Saturday (April 11).
Portugal's Lenine Cuhna and Hong Kong's Wai Lok Tang have been shortlisted for Best Male Athlete, while Great Britain's Bethany Firth and Hong Kong's Ka Man Wong are in the running for Best Female Athlete.
Lenine, who has collected an incredible 163 international medals in a 14-year career and holds world records in heptathlon, indoor pentahlon and triple jump, goes up against teenager Wai Lok, holder of a number of Asian swimming records.Another swimmer Firth, who won the 100 metres backstroke Paralympic gold medal at London 2012, faces competition from table tennis player Ka Man, ranked seventh in the world and second in Asia.
The 2015 edition of Inas’ flagship event, the Global Games, is scheduled to take place from September 20 to 27.
The Games is expected to attract more than a thousand of the world's top athletes with an intellectual disability, competing in athletics, basektball, cycling, futsal, rowing, swimming, table tennis and tennis.
Ecuador was chosen to host the Games ahead of bids from Croatia and South American rivals Colombia, marking the first time the event will have been held outside of Europe, following Bollnäs in Sweden in 2005, Liberec in the Czech Republic in 2009, and Liguria in Italy in 2011.