This month, the Abilympics 2023 (or Olympics of Abilities) will be held in Metz, France with the aim to improve the vocational abilities of persons with disabilities to reach their highest potential.
PBF chatted with Richard Higgins, the International Representative for Abilympics Western Australia Assoc’ Inc, member on the International Abilympics Federation Executive Committee and previous competitor about Abilympics goals, his role and this years participants ?
Richard was a competitor at the 8th IA held in Seoul, South Korea in 2011 and at the 9th IA held in Bordeaux, France in 2016, both competing in the wood carving category.
What is your current title and role with the Abilympics organisation?
Since November 2021 I have been the International Representative for Abilympics Western Australia Assoc’ Inc serving on the International Abilympics Federation Executive Committee (EXCO) to March 2023 when re-elections will take place at the 10th International Abilympics (IA) held in Metz, France. I was previously an active committee member of Abilympics WA since 2011, then elected President from 2017 to 2021.
How many categories and Abilympics events have you competed in?
I was a competitor at the 8th IA held in Seoul, South Korea in 2011 and at the 9th IA held in Bordeaux, France in 2016, both competing in the wood carving category.
As you’ve been quite involved with the Abilympics in your current role and as a previous participant, what do you think are the benefits and value it provides to the competitors and the broader community?
The whole ethos of the Abilympics movement is not only to create a competitive environment for people with disabilities who have vocational skills but also to offer opportunities to those people with disabilities to travel and broaden their experiences enabling them to integrate more in their local community.
Which events are you most excited for or interested to see in the Abilympics 2023?
I am looking forward to supporting all our competitors in their chosen categories and will of course check out the wood carving category. It goes without saying that I am always pleasantly surprised at the high quality of competition, particularly knowing that ALL the contestants are dealing with their own individual challenges as well!
Are there any new / first time Australian participants this year?
Yes, we have three new / first time participants travelling with us to this IA and I wish them all the best of luck. We are always looking for new competitors so if anyone is interested, please check out www.abilympics.org.au for more information.
Who are some of the Australian competitors we should look out for?
I can’t really answer that question as it all depends on the day of competition and what is asked of them in their category but I know that they will all put in their best effort.
Are there any goals or milestones you and your team are looking to achieve in the Abilympics 2023?
As ever, we would love to bring back some medals like the previous, (9th) IA where our Landscape Gardeners achieved the Gold for their category. Having said that, and I know it might be a cliche, but they are all winners for taking part and expanding their experiences competing and integrating with many competitors from a variety of countries.
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