Did you catch highlights of the 2012 Paralympics? The Olympics made history this year and the Paralympics, the parallel sport event for Mindful Athletes™ with intellectual and physical disabilities, has done the same.
The inspiration for the Paralympics began after World War II. In Great Britain, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann opened a spinal injuries center and the injured war veterans there participated in sports for rehabilitation. On July 29, 1948, as London held the XIV Olympiad, Dr. Guttmann held the first Stoke Mandeville Games (named after the center) that included 16 men and women in wheelchairs.
In 1960, the Stoke Mandeville Games became the Paralympics (a term from the Greek word “para” meaning beside or alongside). Four hundred athletes from 23 countries competed in first Paralympics in Rome.
Since 1988 the Paralympics have shared the same venue as the Olympics.
To ensure fair competition the games are divided based on 10 “eligible impairments” including impaired muscle power, limb deficiency, vision impairment and intellectual impairment. Each athlete goes through an athlete evaluation which allocates which division in which sport they can play.
The types of sports that are played are constantly changing, but some examples include judo, rowing, and wheelchair tennis. According to the Paralympic rules, some sports include athletes of all impairments (like Athletics or Swimming) while others are limited to one type (like Goalball or Boccia) or a set selection of impairments (like Equestrian or Cycling).
The 2012 Paralympics, which occurred from August 29th- September 9th, marked the return of the games to its “spiritual birthplace.” And it’s also been noted as the largest Paralympic Games in their history with 4,280 athletes from 166 countries competing in 20 sports.
The athletes that competed in the 2012 games like Jonnie Peacock, Jessica Long and Josef Craig have embodied the core Paralympic values: courage, determination, equality, and inspiration. Their stories, hard work, and willpower have inspired us all and broadened the awareness of people with disabilities around the world.