After setting an 800 m freestyle record at the 2022 Virtus Oceania Asia titles in Brisbane last October, Paralympic swimmer Josh Alford has his sights set on the Virtus Global Games in France in June.
Parents Bob and Lorraine Alford are excited that Josh is again competing on the world stage.
Alford, 27, has had a stellar career in the pool since he started competing in 2014, having learned to swim when he was three.
Growing up in Cooma, he also developed a passion for snowboarding, and the NSW snowfields have become his go-to holiday destination.
At the 2014 Australian Championships in Brisbane, Alford set personal bests in the 50 m, 100 m, 200 m and 400 m freestyle and 50 m backstroke events, securing five finals berths.
In the 200m freestyle final, he recorded another personal best that was nearly six seconds under the qualifying time.
Alford made his Australian swim team and Commonwealth Games debut when he was 18 at the 2014 Glasgow event.
He competed in the 200 m freestyle S14 heat and because there were only seven entrants, he progressed to the final and took sixth place.
At the 2015 Australian Championships in Sydney, he starred in the 50 m freestyle multi-class event when he won gold in 25.25 seconds. He also took home two silver medals and a bronze in the 100 m, 400 m and 200 m freestyle finals.
Alford was selected to represent Australia at the 2015 INAS Global Games in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where he won a gold medal in the 100 m freestyle and silver in the 50 m freestyle.
He continued this success at the 2016 Australian titles in Adelaide, claiming silver in the 100 m freestyle and bronze in the 50 m freestyle multi-class and 200 m freestyle finals.
This performance led to his selection for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
At his Paralympic debut, he competed in three events, finishing eighth in the 100 m backstroke final, but he did not reach the finals in the 200 m freestyle and 200m individual medley.
Alford trains at the Swimming Australia National Training Centre under a scholarship program led by Paralympic coach Yuriy Vdovychenko.
The sixth edition of the Virtus Global Games will be held in Vichy, France, from 4-10 June.
The Virtus Global Games is the world’s largest elite sports event for athletes with an intellectual impairment. Thousands of athletes from Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Oceania will compete across 10 main sports.
It is specifically designed to be conducted every four years, in the preceding year to the Paralympics.
Many athletes who have made their major international debut at the Global Games have gone on to win Paralympic titles. Virtus athletes in athletics, swimming and table tennis from the Global Games 2019 represented their countries at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
The Virtus Global Games 2023 event will provide a world-class platform for athletes with an intellectual impairment on the journey to Paris 2024.
Three years after the organisation was launched in 1986, the first multi-sport event for athletes with an intellectual impairment was held in Harnosand, Sweden, in 1989, named ”the 1st World Games for Athletes with an Intellectual Disability”. Thereafter, the event was called the INAS Global Games.
Over the following years, the focus shifted to getting onto the Paralympic program, adding sports and countries.
After more than a decade of continued development of sport for athletes with an intellectual impairment, the Global Games returned to their roots in Sweden in 2004.
In 2019, at the Global Games in Brisbane, INAS was renamed Virtus, signalling a new era of an elite multi-sport event for World Intellectual Impairment Sport.