About IBSA

More than 1,150 athletes with sight loss from across 70 countries have competed across 10 sports at the International Blind Sport Federation (IBSA) World Games at the University of Birmingham and other neighbouring venues between 14-27 August.

The Games occur every four years and are organised by the International Blind Sports Federation. The first games took place in Madrid, Spain 1998, and have since taken place in Quebec (2003), Sao Paulo (2007), Antalya (2011), Seoul (2015), and Fort Wayne in USA (2019).

Several events were qualifying competitions for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, for Goalball, Blind Football and Judo.

Read more about the history of the IBSA World Games


Chris’s “last dance” begins in Brum

British Paralympic judoka Chris Skelley competing in a judo match as the match referee looks on

A Paralympic gold medallist aims to make history by becoming the first British judo para-athlete to retain their medal in more than 25 years. 

Partially-sighted judo star Chris Skelley MBE rose to stardom in 2021 when he won gold at the Tokyo Paralympics, which was delayed by a year and overshadowed by covid restrictions.

The achievement came 10 years after the former mechanic started to lose his sight and was diagnosed with Oculus Albinism, Bell’s Reflex, and Extreme Photophobia – resulting in him having to leave his job.

With one gold medal under his belt, the 29-year-old’s focus is now turning to the 2023 IBSA World Games, where he can earn vital qualification points to secure a spot at the 2024 Paralympics in Paris.

Securing qualification won’t be the only thing on Chris’s mind though when he steps out onto the tatami at University of Birmingham’s Sport & Fitness in what he has dubbed his own “mini Tokyo”, as he looks to make up for lost time by performing in front of those he holds dearest.

Judo gold medallist is looking to secure his place in the Paris Paralympics

“In Tokyo I was upset because my family wasn’t allowed to be there and see me fight, so the World Games in Birmingham are going to be my ‘mini-Tokyo’ if you like,” said Chris, who recently married GB wheelchair tennis Paralympian Louise Hunt, with the couple now living in Swindon. 

“I am going to have my wife there along with my mum, sisters, godchildren, best friends and all the other people that have helped me along the way.

“I think it will be nice for them to see me fight and get more qualification points for Paris.”

Although still only 29, the 2023 IBSA World Games – of which RNIB is the lead sponsor - will form part of a build-up to what will be Chris says will be his last Paralympics.

He said: “I’m not getting any younger – I’m going to be 30 this year. In visually-impaired Judo terms that’s not that old, but I want to move on to the next chapter in my life, and I have been honest with my team that this is going to be my last dance at Paris – and I want to achieve something that’s not been done for a quarter of a century.

“I’ve done judo for 25 years and full time for 10 years, and now I am married I want to start a family.”

Part of that desire to start a new chapter stems from the sacrifices that Chris says his family has made to enable him to become the world’s best, which sees him working away full-time at the British Judo National Training Centre in Walsall Monday to Friday. 

“What people don’t really see is the tough choices you have to make in order to be focused on the job in hand,” added Chris, who has recently started using a walking cane at night to improve his independence.

“I only get to be with my family at weekends and they have to take that burden on, and that is why I am grateful to the people around me who have said ‘go and chase your dreams’.

“It always brings a tear to my eye when I think about Louise screaming when I won gold, as it is a reminder that she’s had to deal with a lot with the amount of time we have to spend away from each other.

“I’ve been so lucky to do this and meet the people and achieve the stuff I’ve achieved, but at the moment the job is not done, and I’ve been working hard with my strength and conditioning coaches to get me in the best possible shape for the World Games in August.”

Changes to the fighting weight categories, where under-100kg and plus-100 kg have been combined to make plus-90 kg, means that Chris will be coming up against heavier fighters at the IBSA World Games – a challenge which he is relishing.

He added: “I don’t feel any pressure to retain my gold medal, as I now think of myself as the hunter again, and I am hunting people down to be the best.

“Everyone in my category is tough. Everyone is a threat and in judo anything can happen. Someone who usually doesn’t perform can have the best performance of their life on the day – it can be over in a split second – and that’s the danger, and thrill, that judo gives me.

“I know it’s going to be tough at the World Games, but I know if I put the hard work and the preparation in now, then it should be a good day.”

Not only is Chris hoping that the World Games will be a good experience for him, but for the wider blind and partially sighted community in the longer-term, too.

He said: “When I won gold it was great at being able to let people hold the medal and inspire the next generation – and I’m hoping the World Games has the same effect by showing other blind and partially sighted people that they can play any sport they want – and that any sport is adaptable.

“It also shows others how incredible these people are to do what they’re doing.

“In my sport, to go and step on to a mat to fight another person who also can’t see takes a lot of courage, heart and determination.

“When I am fighting someone I can’t see anything – all I can see is their face if I’m up close but I am mainly just trying to feel through my hands.

“The biggest thing for beginners is taking that first step. A lot of people can let disability define them, but it’s important to remember you can do anything if you put your mind to it.”

For more details on ways that blind and partially sighted people can get involved in sport, see British Blind Sport and RNIB’s See Sport Differently campaign.

Find out more about British Judo

Aiming for gold


British Blind Sport Archer Clive Jones taking aim at a target

A former British Army Soldier who was blinded whilst serving is preparing to compete against elite archers at the world’s largest sporting event for blind and partially sighted athletes.

British Blind Sport Archer Clive Jones is gearing up to compete at the 2023 IBSA World Games 21 years after he was blinded in an unprovoked assault which left him in a coma for six days with various facial injuries.

 After waking up from his coma totally blind, the 48-year-old used sport to aid his rehabilitation at St Dunstan’s, a blind veteran’s charity which is now known as Blind Veterans UK – which is where he fell in love with archery.

Clive joined British Blind Sport’s Archery Section and eventually represented Great Britain last year, where he has since shot at two Championships, and also shot an international personal best for GB at the European Para-Championships in Rome.

And the Welshman from Newport in Gwent is aiming to improve further when he steps out on University of Birmingham’s athletics track for the 2023 IBSA World Games, taking place in the UK for the first time between 18-27 August.

Reflecting on the path that has led him to becoming a Great Britain blind archer, Clive said: “When I woke from my coma I was like a scared child. I couldn’t tie my shoelaces or even make a cup of tea. I couldn’t do anything. 

“My main worry was the financial security of my family, because I was blind and I knew my career as a soldier was over.

“Arriving at Blind Veterans UK was the best thing that could have happened to me, as that’s where Istarted to accept, adapt and live like a blind man.

“They taught me how to live again. I can do most things now as I have the confidence and equipment to live independently thanks to them –and that’s where I also took up archery.

“There were so many sports I had tried but none were as therapeutic as archery. I suffer with PTSD as well, and the relaxing feeling I get when I am shooting is phenomenal.”

What happened to me has opened so many doors”

“Do I hate or blame the person responsible for what happened to me? No. What happened to me has opened so many doors.

“I have raised thousands of pounds for a variety of charities and I’m also an active freemason. My archery is great, I love that it’s enabled me to meet a wonderful circle of friends and it’s made me and my family stronger.

“I also got to meet the now Prince of Wales back in 2010 and shot a few arrows with him. He was very kind, supportive and was extremely interested in the archery and how a blind person shoots.”

As summer approaches, Clive is hoping the 2023 IBSA World Games – which RNIB is the lead sponsor of - will not only see him setting a new personal shooting best, but will help to inspire blind and partially sighted people to take up sport and exercise.

He added: “For so many years I had dreamt of being able to represent GB and it finally happened last year – around 20 years on from when I first had a go at archery.

“I now train for at least two hours a week and do a lot of visualisation work with my coach and spotter and that hard work is now paying off for me.

My advice to other blind and partially sighted people is to give sport a go. British Blind Sport put on a lot of days where people can have a go at different sports – and they are a great place to start.

“You’re never going to know if you enjoy something until you give it a go. I had to break out of my own comfort zone to give archery a go and I’m so grateful that I did.”

For more details on ways that blind and partially sighted people can get involved in sport, see British Blind Sport and RNIB’s See Sport Differently campaign.

Find out more about archery for blind and visually impaired people