Paralympics: A Brief HistoryBy Marianne Lampon -
For over 100 years, sport for athletes with impairments has existed. For example, in 1888 Berlin, sports clubs for the deaf already existed.
However, after World War II it was more widely introduced. This meant that injured war veterans and civilians could participate in sports.
Following a request from the British Government in 1944, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann opened a spinal injuries centre at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Great Britain. Rehabilitation sport then evolved into recreational sport and eventually into competitive sport.
On 29 July 1948, the day of the Opening Ceremony of the London 1948 Olympic Games, the first competition for wheelchair athletes named the Stoke Mandeville Games was organised. This was a huge step for Paralympics. The Games involved 16 injured servicemen and women who took part in archery.
The first Paralympic Games were held in Rome in 1960 and featured 400 athletes from 23 countries. Ever since, they have taken place every four years. In 1976 Örnsköldsvik, Sweden hosted the first Paralympic Winter Games.
Now, the Games are the second biggest sporting event in the world and have continued to evolve to include those who have cerebral palsy, are visually impaired and who are amputees.
On 22 September 1989, the International Paralympic Committee was founded. They are an international non-profit organisation which act as the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement.
The word “Paralympic” derives from the Greek preposition “para”, which means beside or alongside, and the word “Olympic”. This means that the Paralympics run side by side with the Olympics and represents how the two movements exist alongside each other.
Information from paralympic.org