March 2016 is a busy month for disability sports, with a many important events taking place. There are a lot of important ones that are worth keeping an eye out for.
With the World Championships having taken place last year, the biggest athletics event outside the Paralympic Games is likely to be continental championships. The first major one of the year is the 2016 IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships (United Arab Emirates) taking place from March 7 to March 16. Asia and Oceania both have tremendous depth, and the Middle East has done a fantastic job at hosting races that have gotten best ever performances out of athletes in terms of national, continental and world records. The depth of talent in Asia and Oceania has been continuing to grow, especially in the field events which offer low-cost events where poorer countries can compete alongside their richer counterparts.
Once the Asia-Oceania championships wrap up, the 8th FAZAA International Athletics Competition – 2016 IPC Athletics Grand Prix – Athletics (United Arab Emirates) start. A lot of competitors will be sticking around to compete in this, including India’s Paralympic athletes. While they may not be able to compete under their own flag in Rio, they and others still can use the event to qualify for Rio. Hopefully, Kenya’s athletes also make the trip to this event as funding issues in the country have left them in a disappointing situation of lacking events to qualify for Rio.
Rio qualifying for athletics then moves to Tunisia in what will be a busy month for some competitors who will be going from event to event, with little time for anything but competition. The Tunis International Meeting – 2016 IPC Athletics Grand Prix – Athletics gets underway on March 24 and concludes on March 26.
While Paralympic Games qualification has pretty much wrapped up, it is worth checking for the 2016 IPC Shooting World Cup Bangkok, Thailand . A number of Paralympic competitors will be there, getting in additional experience ahead of Games. It is a great opportunity to see them in action, and get an idea of who should have medal chances. It should also be a great opportunity to see some Asian competitors you might not see otherwise who might be ready to compete on the Paralympic level at the 2020 Games.
The IPCAS Snowboard World Cup season wraps up in Italy on March 18. Getting to see the races starting on March 15 should be relatively exciting. Paralympic snowboarding is still in its relative infancy, but the quality of snowboarding is always improving. 2016 is also a good season to get an idea of who your 2018 Paralympic hopefuls might be if they can stay fit.
The 2016 IPCNS World Cup wraps up with a Vuokatti, Finland hosted event. It gets underway on March 15 and concludes March 20. With the Paralympic Games only two years off, it is a chance to see some of the world’s best Nordic skiers as they prepare themselves for the long sprint to South Korea.
On March 16, the 2016 IPCAS Europa Cup Final Obersaxen take place, concluding the 2015/2016 Europa Cup season. This competition tends to attract Europe’s second tier talent, who use the competition as training for the World Cup and eventual Paralympic Games qualifying. Everyone has to start somewhere, and this is where you can get your last look at some up and comers in Europe.
The South Africa Age Group Summer Games take place from March 11 to March 16. While not a hugely important even on the international disability sport calendar, it is important on the South African and African continental intellectual disability calendar. Taking place in Port Elizabeth, the competition includes INAS sanctioned Cricket, Table Tennis, Swimming and Indoor Rowing events open to participants from all African countries. This makes it important for growing ID sport in Africa.
The 2016 INAS Athletics Indoor Championships take place from March 9 to 14 in Ancona, Italy. While some of the wheelchair and vision impaired athletes will be based on the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia, intellectual disability athletes will probably find themselves based in Italy for the month because of this event, especially as in April, there is an IPC World Cup event.
The 2016 INAS World Cross Country get underway on March 31 and concludes on April 4. Taking place at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park, New York, it will use the same course as the New York State High School Cross Country Championships in 2002 and 2006. It coincides with a INAS 30th Anniversary event. It will be the first time the event the United States has hosted an INAS World Championship.
The 5th European Deaf Indoor Athletics Championships get underway on March 27 in Torun, Poland. For a number of athletes this event will serve as an important warmup event for the 3rd World Deaf Athletics Championships later in the year. If you’re looking for high quality deaf athletics, it is one of the two biggest competitions of the year.