Just when you thought about how much you were missing the Olympics the Paralympics have come around to get everyone back in the spirit. So whilst you’re putting the union jack bunting back up we’re looking at the Paralympic Games in this weeks’ FACTS…
FACT 1: The Paralympics began in 1948 when Sir Ludwig Guttman organised a multisport event between several hospitals that coincided with the 1948 London Olympics. Gutmann established the games to promote the rehabilitation of soldiers after World War II.
FACT 2: Guttman’s Paralympics – known then as the Stoke Mandeville Games ran over the next twelve years with the aims to use sport as an avenue for healing.
FACT 3: In 1960 as well as the Rome Olympic Games Gutmann also brought 400 athletes from 23 countries to compete in the ‘Parallel Olympics’. The ‘Parallel Olympics’ became known as the Paralympics after this and has since been held in every Olympic year.
FACT 4: In the 1960 Parallel Olympics only wheelchair athletes competed. It wasn’t until later on that other categories added.
Today there are six disability groups in the Paralympics. These are: amputee, Cerebral Palsy, visual impairment, spinal cord injuries, intellectual disability and ‘Les Autres’ for those that don’t fit in the other groups.
FACT 6: As well as well-known sports the Paralympics also features some lesser known events such as Boccia. Boccia is a similar sport to French ‘boules’ and is open to athletes with cerebral palsy. It sees competitors propel a set of coloured balls closer to a white ‘target’ ball.
FACT 7: To ensure there is fair competition between athletes with different levels of disability the Paralympics use a similar system of classification to that of weight categories in boxing.
FACT 8: After the2000 Games in Sydney the Spanish Paralympic Committee had to strip Spain’s learning difficulty basketball team of their medals after it was found that only two of the 12 team members had a true mental disability.
FACT 9: Goal ball is another Paralympic event and is for the blind or visually impaired. The aim is to roll the ball into the opponents’ goal while the opposition tries to block it. The ball has bells inside it to help players locate it and the game has to be played with total silence in the venue.
FACT 10: USA born Trischa Zorn won a total of 55 medals (41 gold) between 1980 and 2004 making her the most decorated Paralympian in history. Trischa competed in blind swimming events.
See images of London during the Paralympics with Discovery’s Photo Finish
See photos from London's First Olympics in 1908.
Find out which athletes made history in our making olympic history gallery.