The 2016 Summer Paralympic Games begins in Rio today! After the excitement of Team GB’s success at the Olympic Games, there are now 528 more events over 11 days to look forward to. To get warmed up, here’s five facts on the history of the Paralympic Games.
1.We have Sir Ludwig to thank
The first Paralympic Games was held in 1948. Its creator wasn’t a sportsman or a politician but a neurosurgeon by the name of Sir Ludwig Guttmann. The idea behind it was to act as a therapeutic process for people in wheelchairs. Guttmann understood the importance of sport in rehabilitation and the inaugural event helped increase awareness and knowledge of how to treat injuries. It was initially known as the Wheelchair Games and wasn’t linked with the Olympic Games until 1960.
2. Winter games
The first Winter Paralympic Games was held in Sweden in 1976. 17 nations competed and they were the first Games to feature athletes other than those who are wheelchair-bound. Now the Paralympics allows competitors with a broad array of disabilities to take part and it is the second largest sporting event on Earth after the Olympic Games.
3. All in a name
Contrary to popular belief, the ‘para’ is short for parallel, not paralysis. ‘Para’ originates from a Greek prefix meaning ‘alongside’, explaining why it is held in the same location and year as the Olympics.
Paralympian Trischa Zorn is the most decorated competitor in the history of the Games. From 1980 to 2004 she won a total of 55 medals, 41 of which are gold, in blind swimming events.
5. On to 2020!
In four years time, Tokyo will become the first city to host two Summer Paralympic Games. 2.3 million tickets will be available and it will be the first time badminton will be played at the Games.
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