Posted on Thursday September 3, 2015
The Superhumans Are Back
Friendly Wheels, Issue 103
With the 2016 Olympics all wrapped up, the Paralympic Games are next to take the stage in Rio!
The Paralympics are a global sporting event showcasing the world’s greatest athletes with disabilities. Unlike the Special Olympics, this event emphasizes the participants’ athletic achievements and only features athletes who qualify through official Paralympic Trials.
The idea of the Paralympics was first introduced during the 1948 London Olympics. Originally called the Stoke-Mandeville Games for the Paralyzed, the Games were founded by Dr. Ludwig Guttmann, who organized the first competition for athletes in wheelchairs. With just 16 participants and one competitive sport, Guttmann successfully began the movement for Paralympic sports.
The event quickly grew over the next decade, adding new sports and officially changing its name to the Paralympic Games in 1960. That same year, the first official Paralympics were held in Rome, Italy with over 400 athletes from 23 countries competing in 12 different sports.
The event expanded in 1976, joining the Winter Games for the first time. This marked the first Games to feature athletes who were not wheelchair users. In addition to this, the 1976 Games were also the first to include alpine skiing, nordic skiing and sledge racing.
Today, the Paralympics have grown into a successful global event. Rio 2016 will be the largest edition of the Games yet, with an estimated 4,350 athletes. The US will be making history of its own, sending a record breaking 267-member team to Rio.
After claiming 98 medals in the 2012 London Games, the US looks to continue its success behind several of its top athletes. Swimmer Jessica Long will be participating in her fourth consecutive Paralympic Games as the most decorated Paralympic athlete in US history with 17 medals. Long was also featured in Friendly Wheels leading up to the 2012 Games!
The US will cheer on wheelchair track and field athletes Raymond Martin and Tatyana McFadden competing in Rio. Martin became a household name in 2012, winning gold in all four of his events in his first ever Paralympics. McFadden will be competing in her fourth consecutive Games and will look to add to her total of 11 medals.
In addition to swimming and track and field, the US will be competing in 18 other sports. Some of which include wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, sitting volleyball, table tennis, rowing and equestrian.
We would like to wish all of this year’s Paralympic athletes the best of luck as they prepare for Rio. To learn more about the Games, visit www.rio2016.com/en.