Brits celebrate European Athletics success

European Champion, Sam Fernando, brings home gold

Job done for the 10 British athletes, returning from the Virtus European Athletics Championships with 1 Gold, 5 silver and 8 bronze medals.

In his Virtus debut, James McKibbin kicked off the medal haul with a strong silver medal performance in the 10,000m, ahead of the French runner, Mathieu Loiseau.  McKibbin achieved a season’s best finishing in 33:03.29.


European medallist, James McKibbin said

‘I really enjoyed the race.  I am very happy.  I could hear the GB Team cheering me on, and I really liked that.’


With the GB Team spirit high, helped by another gutsy British performance, Matthew Power, brought the next medal home, with a bronze in the 100m and securing a personal best. Power went on to earn a second individual bronze in the 200m (23.51).

At just 13 years old, British international Ella Richards, in her international debut took to the track and stormed home with a silver medal in both the 1500m (4:59.74) and 800m (2:24.69) events.

Speaking about Richard’s performances Team Manager, Filomena Zamparelli commented

Ella is an absolute joy to be around.  There is no doubt that this young lady will go far in her athletics career.  She works hard and is determined.”


Experienced British international, Sam Fernando, took home the only gold medal for Great Britain in a tremendous performance in the 3000m Steeplechase in 9:53.82 ahead of Jose Martinez Morote, Spain and Pavlo Voluikevych, Ukraine.  Showing his athletics prowess, Fernando went onto to take a hard-won bronze medal the next day in the 5000m in 15:28.40.

Welcomed back to the international scene after a tough 2023 recovering from injury, was Britain’s stoic Declan Manning who showed his expertise and confirmed he was ready for business as he took home the silver medal in the hammer, throwing 31.27m.

The 4 Amigos! Joel Mattacks, Declan Manning, Matthew Power and Fabio Zamparelli

Newcomer Fabio Zamparelli, proved to be one to watch, also adding to the GB medal tally, by taking a silver medal in the discus, throwing 44.71m, and registering a PB.  Daniel Wolff, also making his Virtus debut, made his mark in a personal bronze in the 800m (2:00.37).

Finishing the Europeans in style, the men’s 4 x 400m relay race saw a valiant race from Britons, Kieron O Hara, Joel Mattacks, Matthew Power and Daniel Wolff, finishing with a bronze in 3:44.23 behind Italy (3:37.91) and Spain (3:36.06)

British international & SportExcel UK Ambassador, Martina Barber

With the team members achieving seasons best, and personal bests, including a PB for Martina Barber’s performance of 24.99 in the discus, the Team secured their place in the Virtus records and on the event medal table.

GB Team Manager, Filomena Zamparelli said

‘We were a united team, with everyone supporting each other through successes and disappointments. Every athlete worked hard and gave their all.  The success of this GB Team wouldn’t have been possible without the absolutely amazing Kevin Manning, Pat Gahagan and Liz Power. They supported me and my vision for the Team.  We’ve left Sweden with PB’s, medals, new friendships and some amazing memories.’


Tracey McCillen, Chief Executive, Sport Excel UK said

‘I am delighted the Team have had a successful event and experience in Sweden.  All 14 members of the Team have represented us well and given all that they could in a very competitive event.  My thanks, and my congratulations go to each one of them.’

‘My thanks also go the families who supported us getting the Team to Sweden.  Without funding or support from the British sports system, either to athletes or to Sport Excel UK, we simply couldn’t have a team at the start line without their support.  Virtus Championships are an integral part of the high performance pathway for athletes with intellectual impairment and we hope that our sports system will begin to embrace Virtus events and our athletes in the way they deserve.’


The Virtus European Athletics Championships was organised by the Swedish Athletics Federation, sanctioned by Virtus (World) and World Para Athletics. The Championships is part of the Virtus Europe regional programme, with Virtus Europe being affiliated to Virtus (World), the global organisation that promotes elite sport for athletes with an intellectual impairment.

Virtus Championships are elite level competitions exclusively for athletes with intellectual impairment across 3 classes, which includes athletes with intellectual disability (II1 T/F20), Down syndrome (II2) and autism (II3).

The regional Championship programme leads to World Championships and the route to the Virtus Global Games, a multi-sport elite level Championships, scheduled every 4 years in the year ahead of the Paralympic Games.  The next Virtus Global Games is in Egypt in 2027.

SportExcelUK promotes, supports, and facilitates talented sports people in the UK to train, compete and excel in national and international sport. It is the only official Great Britain member of Virtus, is responsible for and manages eligibility and classification across all sports, across the UK and manages GB Teams across multiple sports to Virtus events.

You can see the full events results via the Championship website

The GB Team comprised:

Martina Barber (Stevenage, Herts), II1, Long Jump, 100m, discus

Sam Fernando (Cupar, Fife), II1, 3000m steeplechase, 5000m

Declan Manning (Bungay, Suffolk), II1, discus, hammer, shot

Joel Mattacks (Southwick, Wiltshire), II1, Long Jump, 4 x 400m relay

James McKibbin (Barnstaple, N Devon), II1, 10,000m, 5,000m

Kieran O Hara (Upminster, Essex), II1, 400m, 1500m, 4 x 400m relay

Matthew Power (Edinburgh), II1, 100m, 200m, 4 x 400m relay

Ella Richards (Teignmouth, Devon), II1, 800m, 1500m

Daniel Wolff (Wallington, Surrey), II1, 800m, 1500m, 4 x 400m relay

Fabio Zamparelli (Truro, Cornwall), II1, shot, discus

Staff members Filomena Zamparelli (Team Manager/Head Coach), Kevin Manning (Coach), Pat Gahagan (Coach), Liz Power (Team Support Officer/Escort).


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