Team Italy – White took the first gold medal in the inaugural WFDF World Wheelchair Ultimate Championships, having secured a narrow 7-5 victory during Sunday’s finals over Team WFDF International. The event was held at the Bella Italia EFA Village in Lignano Sabbiadoro (Italy) from 29-30 September 2023 and four teams participated with two teams from Italy (White and Blue), one team from Germany, and an “international” team with its core group from Japan.
In the Semifinals Team WFDF International beat Team Italy Blue by a score of 6-5, and Team Italy – White won versus Germany with a 10-8 score, turning upside down the group results. The games in the group round robin had resulted in Team Germany securing place 1, Team WFDF International place 2, Team Italy Blue place 3 and Team Italy White place 4.
“It was a fantastic first tournament on the international level showing the high potential of WWUC as a WFDF championship. The games were extremely intense and all teams excelled in their sporting performance. Congratulations to Team Italy White for the Gold, Team WFDF International for the Silver, and Team Germany for the Bronze medal. Special praise goes to Team Italy Blue for winning the Spirit Award awarded by the spirit scores,“ said WFDF Secretary General and Parasport Commission chair Volker Bernardi. “Our compliments go to the event organizers of this fantastic inaugural event setting the benchmark for future tournaments. I am particularly pleased that the evening session was attended by considerable crowds which showed the interest of the Flying Disc community in Wheelchair Ultimate.”
“We were really pleased to be able to host this championship for the Wheelchair Ultimate discipline,“ added WFDF President Robert “Nob” Rauch. “We learned a lot and were able to get a lot of feedback from our athletes and coaches, which should allow us to make the incremental improvements that will make the next edition in 2025 even better. We again thank our Local Organizing Committee led by Salvatore Comis, the head of the Flying Disc section of our Italian member NF FIGeST, to CONI, the Italian Paralympic Committee and the Italian Sport For all Federation for all their organizational support, and especially to the athletes from Italy, Germany and Japan for their enthusiasm and commitment.”
The two-day tournament was played with four teams participating as a test event on an international level with a round robin format and concluding with semifinals, bronze medal, and finals rounds. The WFDF International Team had a core of players from Japan and supplemented with a couple players from Germany and Italy.
Local Organizing Committee Head Salvatore Comis commented that “It was a great experience for me to organize this event. Seeing how all the male and female athletes improved their game match-by-match is proof that there are no limits in sports. I met some great people, and I will always carry with me the memory of everyone’s happy faces during the closing ceremony of the event. As a native Italian, I am obviously very happy with the victory of Italy – White. But it was especially gratifying that Alessandro Somaini was a member of the gold medal winning team, as it was with him that we started the project of Wheelchair Flying Disc in Italy last year; without his passion and commitment we would have never managed to have two teams at the event. Now we need to continue training with the goal repeating our performance in the next World Wheelchair Ultimate Championships in 2025.”