The 2016 Rio Paralympic Games are the 15th edition of the competition
The Games first took to the world stage in Rome in 1960, a week after the regular summer Olympics ended in the city. Wednesday night’s dazzling Opening Ceremony at Rio’s Maracana Stadium is a far cry from the humble beginnings of disabled sport.
The Paralympics were conceived at the 1948 London Olympics by German neurologist Ludwig Guttmann, who four years earlier opened a spinal injuries centre at Stoke Mandeville hospital to the north west of London after fleeing Nazi Germany.
Disgusted at the sight of men dying from unrelated infections on average three months after breaking their back, Guttmann worked to make his patients more mobile before gradually introducing sports such as archery and javelin throwing as part of their rehabilitation.
The Paralympic Games are organised by the International Paralympic Committee and not by the IOC.
The Rio Paralympic Games will be held from September 7-18
More than 4,000 athletes are participating in the Paralympic Games in Rio, representing 176 delegations. By comparison, there were 207 delegations at the Rio Olympics (205 countries plus an independent team and a team of refugees). In all more than 11,000 athletes took part.
As in the Olympics, a team of refugees will take part for the first time at the Paralympics. It consists of Syrian swimmer and flagbearer Ibrahim Al-Hussein and Shahrad Nasajpour, an Iranian discus thrower who has been granted asylum in the United States. The pair led the parade of para-athletes at the Opening Ceremony.
Unlike the Olympics, the entire Russian team has been excluded from the competition. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee amid the state-sponsored doping scandal. Moscow has denounced the move as politically motivated, saying that dozens of innocent athletes are being punished. Russia has responded by hosting its own games on September 8 and 9.
Facts and Figures
The Rio Paralympic Games will see competition in 23 sports. In all, 528 events will be organised. Two new disciplines are making their debut in these Games: Triathlon (or para-triathlon) and Canoe.
Then there is Boccia, “a test of strategy” using a set of balls similar to pétanque. This is a specific event at the Paralympic Games. This discipline has no equivalent in the Olympics.
No fewer than 2,347 gold, silver and bronze medals are up for grabs in the Paralympics. For the Olympics, the total was 2,102.
Paralympic heroes and heroines
One medal would be enough to crown the careers of most athletes. But just take a look at this.
Swedish shooting competitor Jonas Jacobsson is one of the all-time greats, with 30 medals including 17 gold!
US swimmer Trischa Zorn is the most decorated Paralympian of all-time, with a staggering haul of 55 medals,
including 41 golds!