Anticipating this week’s Friday event, the Paralympic Day, I have gathered some interesting facts about the Paralympics.
Did you know?
- The term ‘Paralympics’ has nothing to do with paralysis or paraplegia. In Greek, ‘para’ means ‘besides or alongside’, suggesting that the games run parallel to the Olympics.
- The Paralympics is the second-largest sporting event in the world after the Olympic Games.
- The symbol of the Paralympics combines three most common colours used in national flags – red, blue, and green. The logo showing the shape of an ‘Agito’ (meaning ‘I move’ in Latin) stands for the asymmetrical crescent shape that was specifically designed for the Paralympic movement.
- It is a multi-sport competition, allowing people with different disabilities, like amputation, paraplegia, quadriplegia, muscular dystrophy, post-polio syndrome, spina bifida, vision impairment, leg length difference, short stature, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis, and intellectual impairment to compete together. There are ten separate categories established by the International Paralympic Committee, the Paralympic governing body.
- The motto of the Paralympic Games is ‘Spirit in Motion’.
- It was on 29 July 1948, at the Opening Ceremony of the 1948 London Olympic Games, that Dr. Guttmann organised the first ever competition for wheelchair athletes. It was named the Stoke Mandeville Games. A total of 16 injured servicemen and women participated in archery.
- George Eyser, a German-American gymnast, was the first disabled athlete to compete at the Summer Olympics, in 1904. Although he used a wooden prosthesis in place of his left leg, he won three gold, two silver, and a bronze medal, in just one day of events.
- The ‘Sighted Guides’ for visually impaired athletes are a very crucial part of the competition. The guide and the athlete are considered a team; both qualify as medal candidates.
- The first Paralympics was held in the year 1960, in Rome, Italy. 400 athletes from 23 countries participated then.
- To provide for opportunities for sportspersons, including amputees, visually impaired, persons with cerebral palsy, and paraplegics, who were not associated with the International Stoke Mandeville Games, the International Sport Organisation for the Disabled (IOSD) was formed in 1964.
- The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Olympic Committee have signed an agreement to host the Paralympic Games in the same city and venues as the Olympic Games. This came into force since the 1988 Summer Games at Seoul, Korea, and the 1992 Winter Games at Albertville, France.
- The Summer Paralympics comprises more than 20 sports, and the Winter Paralympics includes five sports.
- Events include archery, shooting, athletics, triathlon, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair dance sport, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair curling, swimming, cycling, alpine skiing, biathlon, canoe, powerlifting, Taekwondo, equestrian, table tennis, soccer 5-a-side, soccer 7-a-side, sitting volleyball, Boccia, Goalball, sailing, shooting, judo, and rowing.
- Paralympic athletes such as South African swimmer, Natalie du Toit, and Polish table tennis player, Natalia Partyka, have been known to qualify and compete in both the Paralympic and the Olympic Games.