The picturesque Italian city of Udine will host the first International Federation for Intellectual Impairment Sport (INAS) European Half Marathon Championships since 2011 on Sunday (17 September).
Being held as part of the 18th edition of the prestigious Maratonina Udinese, runners from Italy, Portugal, Spain, Poland and Sweden will also compete. It is the second time the event will be held in Udine following on from 2009.
Alex Holtz, Alessandro Tomaiuolo and Fabrizio Vallone will represent the hosts.
Tomaiuolo is a bright prospect having only started competitive running two years ago, and he is aiming high.
“Competing at home is exciting, I hope to have a great support, they will help me in the race,” he said. “I’ll compete thinking to my people in Manfredonia [his home town]. They’ll expect a great performance from me. I want to get a medal.”
But the Italians will face Portuguese teammates Paulo Pinheiro and Jose Azevedo, the respective European and world champions.
Azevedo is particularly fired up ahead of the competition as he tries to claim what he considers to be his missing gold.
“This is the title I lack in my career,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the Championships. My main goal is get the podium. I work out every day to give my best. I feel happy [to have Pinheiro as a rival]. There is a good chance of having two places on the podium.”
Another face to watch is Spain’s Asier Aguirre Santos, the bronze medallist from the 2016 World Championships.
Chairperson of the INAS Athletics Committee and INAS Europe, Jose Costa Pereira, is looking forward to a close contest: “Thanks to FISDIR (the Italian Federation for Intellectual Impairment Sport) and the Udine Maratonina to host again the INAS European Championships, eight years after the previous event in 2009. It’s a fantastic and fast race where INAS athletes feel fully included.”
The International Federation for Intellectual Impairment Sport (INAS) represents more than 300,000 athletes with intellectual impairments around the world. We give elite athletes the chance to compete at an international level and on the Paralympic stage. But we cannot continue our work towards the inclusion of the world’s biggest impairment group in sport and society without your support.
We are a registered charity and your help can make a big difference.