The Paralympics were never created to be a world-wide sporting event which millions of people would watch, and thousands of athletes compete in. In fact they started right here in the UK, from an idea formed by Sir Ludwig Guttmann. After opening the UK’s first spinal injuries unit he started playing with the idea of sport helping soldiers with spinal injuries both physically and mentally.
In 1948, alongside the Olympics, Sir Ludwig Guttmann organised the very first wheelchair sports competition at Stoke Mandeville hospital. This was the birth of the Paralympics as we know it today! Since then the Paralympics have grown in popularity, with this year being the most successful games ever with ticket sales through the roof.
After some time the event was officially named the ‘Paralympics’, most people may assume the name derives from the word ‘paralysis’, however it has no reference to disability. In fact the name comes from the Greek word ‘para’ which means ‘beside’ or ‘alongside’ meaning the games that run parallel to the Olympics. So get in the sporting spirit by cheering on your favourite nation this year, it only comes around once every four years after all!
Image credit; poeloq