What Is The Paralympics? What Are Paralympic Sports?

What Is The Paralympics? What Are Paralympic Sports?

Paralympic Meaning: What is The History Of The Paralympics?

Having a disability no longer means that you are unable to live a full, healthy and happy life as many different facets of society have looked to be more inclusive! Inclusion is extremely important, no matter who you are or what you look like, you deserve the chance to participate in both normal and extraordinary things just as everybody else. As medicine and technology have developed to help those with disabilities lead a normal life, it became important to ensure that disabled people were given the same opportunities and experiences. One of these developments has been the creation of the Paralympics! Read on to find out more about the Paralympics' history! 

The first version of the Paralympics began in 1948 on the first day of the opening ceremony at the Olympics which were held in London. A man named Dr Guttmann organized the first competition that was only for those in wheelchairs. He called them the Stoke Mandeville Games and the teams consisted of 16 ex-servicemen and women who took part in an archery competition. At the next Olympic Games, which were in 1952, Dutch men and women who had also been injured took part in the same competition, and it was from here that the Stoke Mandeville Games became the Paralympics! 

In 1960, during the Olympic Games in Rome, the first official Paralympics Games were held! These games consisted of 400 disabled men and women from 23 different countries and from this year onwards, every Olympics included the Paralympic Games! In 1976, the Winter Games also changed to include the Paralympics competition, though at this point neither of the games were in the same city as the Olympics. The change to having the Olympics and Paralympics in the same city happened in 1988, in Seoul for the Summer Games, and in 1992, in Albertville for the Winter Games. 

Since then, the Paralympics have been a monumental and important part of every Olympic Games, with paralympic athletes competing against one another to be the best of the best in their sport. The meaning of the Paralympics and the importance behind this inclusion is ensuring that every person has the opportunity to get to the top of their sport, with each player and country aiming to get the highest Paralympics medal count in the games! 

Paralympic Games: What are The Paralympic Sports?

There are many different games that are played at the Paralympics, both in The Winter Games and The Summer Games. The following is a brief look into a few of these different games that are played at the Paralympics! 

Summer Paralympics Sports

The following is a look at a few of the different summer games that are played at the Summer Paralympics!

  • Blind Soccer Paralympics: Blind soccer at the Paralympics is played on a field that measures 40m long and 20m wide which has sideboards to ensure that the ball never goes out of play. The game lasts for 50 minutes, with players playing for 25 minutes each side. Along with being a paralympic sport, there is also a world championship that takes place. This championship was organized by the International Blind Sports Association (IBSA). 

  • Paralympic Basketball: One of the most popular wheelchair sports in the Paralympic Games is paralympic basketball! Men's wheelchair basketball has been included in every Paralympics since 1960 and women's basketball has been included since 1968. Often, people who play paralympic basketball professionally have different modifications and types of wheelchairs to help them move around the court more easily. 

  • Paralympic Archery: Paralympic archery was the first game to be played during the Stoke Mandeville Games and it is still played today! This game is all about precision and many different kinds of people with different disabilities take part in it! 

  • Paralympic Rugby: Paralympic rugby became an official paralympic sport in 2000, as different teams from around the world look to compete for the gold medal! This game is played in a very similar way to normal rugby and is a full-contact sport, with the only difference being that players are not allowed to strike the axle of another player's wheelchair. 

  • Paralympic Ping Pong: One of the most famous paralympic ping pong players is named Ibrahim Hamadtou. This man lost both of his arms in a train accident when he was 10 years old, but that has not slowed him down in the least! Paralympic ping pong is played much the same as the normal sport. 

  • Paralympic Tennis: Another popular kind of paralympic sport is paralympic tennis! The majority of players in this game are in wheelchairs, though the rules are relatively similar. 

Winter Paralympics Sports

The following are just a few of the different games that are played at the Winter Paralympics.


  • Para Ice Hockey: Paralympic ice hockey has been part of the Paralympics since 1994 and it is a beloved sport in The Winter Games! Players in this game use sledges on the ice to maneuver their way around. The rules for this game are relatively similar to normal ice hockey, though players do use two sticks in this game. 

  • Wheelchair Curling: Curling is a popular Winter Olympic sport and in 2006, it became a paralympic sport as well! The only difference between normal curling and paralympic curling is that the person throwing remains stationary and you have no one sweeping. Teams have to include both men and women.

  • Para Snowboarding: This sport made its official debut at the Paralympics in 2014 and is often referred to as adaptive snowboarding. There are three different categories, designed by considering the mobility and disability of the snowboarders. 

What Are The Three Most Popular Paralympic Sports?

The following is a brief paralympic sports list of the most popular sports that are played at the Paralympics! 

Paralympic Swimming

One of the most popular paralympic sports is swimming! Paralympic swimming includes people with a wide range of disabilities. Paralympic swimming was one of eight different sports to be first played in the Paralympics in 1960. Paralympic swimming is a sport that has a variety of different competitors with different impairments, but they do not let that stop them from getting in the pool and winning medals! Many of the great paralympic swimmers have gone on to win many medals at the Paralympics and many different countries compete in this sport. 

Paralympic Cycling

Paralympic cycling has grown in leaps and bounds since it became part of the Paralympics in 1984. This sport is designed for people who have various disabilities to participate, with both men and women competing in separate events! There are a number of different competitions that range from short-track events to long-distance cycles! 

Blind Paralympic Running

In blind paralympic running, runners are led by guides on the track! You do not have to be completely blind to participate and those with a visual impairment of a certain degree are free to take part and compete. 

What Are The Paralympic Classifications? What is This Classification Based On?

Disabilities may range for different athletes and to ensure that the games are entirely fair, the Paralympics has a classification system. These Paralympic classifications are monitored by the IPC Athlete Classification Code and Standards and they determine whether an athlete meets the minimum impairment level to participate in the Paralympics! Ten different impairment types are considered and they are made up of eight physical impairments, one vision impairment, and one intellectual impairment level. The following is a list of these classifications. 

  • Muscle Power Impairment: This classification includes any person who experiences a reduction in voluntary muscle movements or impaired muscle power.
  • Passive Range of Movement Impairments: This is for athletes who experience a restriction in their passive movements. 
  • Limb Deficiency: Limb deficiency refers to a person having a lack of bones or joints. 
  • Leg Length Difference: This refers to athletes who have a difference in the length of their limbs, be it a traumatic injury or something that they were born with.
  • Short Stature: Having reduced bone length may mean that you have short stature and this would qualify you in this classification category. 
  • Hypertonia: Hypertonia leads to an increase in muscle tension and if you have this condition you can compete in certain Paralympic sports. 
  • Ataxia: Those with ataxia have uncoordinated movements that are often caused by damage to the spinal cord. 
  • Athetosis: This condition refers to continuous, slow involuntary movements. 
  • Vision Impairment: Many blind Paralympians have not let their vision impairment stop them from achieving! To be classified as a visually impaired person you have to have little or no vision. 
  • Intellectual Impairment: Those with intellectual impairments would have had to have this impairment from the time they were 18. Restricted intellectual functioning does qualify you for certain paralympic sports! 

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