The Ferrari Square in Genoa, Italy yesterday saw an eruption of colour and an air of anticipation as the Opening Ceremony of the 2011 INAS Global Games got underway. The 37 strong Great Britain Team played their part as they prepare for the challenge of competing amongst 35 nations and the world’s best athletes. Selected by the UK Sports Association for People with Learning Disability (UKSA), in conjunction with the Tennis Foundation, and led by former Commonwealth Champion Verona Elder, the GB Team is competing in athletics, swimming, table tennis and tennis.

Taking place between 24th September to 4th October 2011, and endorsed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) the Games are part of the selection events for the London 2012 Paralympic Games in athletics (T/F20), swimming (S14) and table tennis (T11).

Later this week three British athletes will fight it out for glory in the 1500m track event.  Owen Miller (Dunfermline) and Stephen Morris (Cardiff) ponder the challenges of their first Global Games but both focussing on strong performances for Paralympic Selection. Miller & Morris said “We’re looking forward to getting started at the Global Games, but know good times in the event are so important to try for selection to the Team for the London 2012 Paralympics”.  Andrew Kaar (Solihull) said “I expect there will be serious competition at the Games, particularly from Iran, Poland and the Ukraine, but I’m hoping for medals in Italy and then at London 2012”.

The Global Games is the first event at which sports specific classification in athletics will be introduced representing a significant milestone in the action plan agreed by IPC and INAS at the 2009 IPC General Assembly where the agreement for inclusion in the London 2012 Paralympic Games was reached. Sports classification is already in place for swimming and table tennis.

Commenting on the London 2012 Paralympics , Dr Bob Price, President INAS  said “…with preparations now well underway for athletes with an intellectual disability, we can be proud of what has been achieved in recent months.”

Tracey McCillen, CEO UKSA said “with just months to go now until Paralympics, those focussing on London 2012 have a job to do at the Global Games to take them a step closer.  For others in non-Paralympic events the Global Games are the pinnacle of their sporting achievement and expectations are equally high.  I wish them all every success at the Games and look forward to celebrating their successes.”