1. The meaning of the word Paralympic illustrates the connection to its sister event, the Olympics
The Paralympic Games bring together amazing athletes with a range of disabilities, but contrary to what many people believe, the name of this international multi-sport event doesn’t come from merging the words ‘paralysis’ and ‘Olympics’ together. it does mark the deep connection to the Olympic games. ‘Paralympics’ comes from the Greek preposition ‘para’ which means ‘alongside’ - it’s the event running alongside the Olympics.
2. The Paralympics started as a series of rehabilitation activities for veterans
Before the Paralympic Games we know and love, there were the Stoke Mandeville Games, also known as the Wheelchair Games. In 1948, World War II soldiers were returning from the front lines with debilitating spinal cord injuries. The British government asked neurosurgeon Dr. Ludwig Guttman to open a spinal injury centre at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire to help these war veterans cope with their disabilities. Soon Dr. Guttman made an amazing breakthrough: sport was an important part of the rehabilitation process. What started as a wheelchair competition on the hospital grounds meant to help soldiers recover from their injuries, soon turned into a national event that inspired the international community and caught the eye of the Olympic Games committee. What an inspiring Paralympic fact!
The 2012 British drama The Best of Men tells the remarkable story of how the Paralympics began. So, if you want to find out more about doctor Ludwig Guttman and his big breakthrough, or maybe if you’re just looking for motivation to get you through that next workout session, this is a well-told beautiful story worth a watch.
3. The birth of the Paralympics: 1960, Rome
The first Paralympic Games were held in 1960 in Rome, alongside the Olympic Games. Although still known at the time as the International Stoke Mandeville Games, the Paralympic spirit was already alive in each one of the 400 athletes from 23 countries participating in various sports.
4. The symbols of the Paralympic games have a special meaning
While the Olympics have the Olympic rings, the Paralympics has three symbols. Three Agitos consist of three colours: red, blue and green. Agitos means ‘I move’ in Latin and it symbolises the athletic ‘spirit in motion’.
5. The Olympic and Paralympic gold medal is made of… silver
A less-known Paralympic fact is how the gold medal is made. Every athlete strives for gold, but in reality, the much-coveted gold medals are silver medals plated with gold. An interesting Paralympic fact is that for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, each medal has been moulded entirely from metal extracted from recycled consumer electronics, marking the first time when the public has been proactively involved in donating electronic devices used to make the Olympic and Paralympic medals.
6. There are four Paralympic values at the heart of the Paralympic Movement
Transforming attitudes, breaking down barriers and inspiring generations of people all around the world is not easy. But the Paralympics have done it again and again. That’s because each athlete strives to embody four important values that have come to define the Paralympic competition: courage, determination, inspiration and equality. These are the official Paralympic Values. Find out more about the amazing Paralympic Movement by visiting Paralympic.org.
7. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is the global governing body for the Paralympic Games
The IPC was founded in 1989 with an inspiring mission: "to enable Paralympic athletes to achieve sporting excellence and inspire and excite the world". The committee serves as the international federation for 10 para-sports and it organises both the Summer and Winter Paralympic competitions from its headquarters in Bonn, Germany.
8. There will be 5 Paralympic sports represented at the Winter Paralympics in Beijing
There will be 78 events across 5 Paralympic sports to look forward to at the Beijing Winter Paralympics in 2022, including Para Snowboarding, Para Alpine Skiing, Para Ice Hockey, Wheelchair Curling and Para Alpine Skiing (split into Biathlon and Cross-Country Skiing).
9. The 2016 Games in Rio smashed TV viewing records
It was a monumental year for the Paralympics in Rio, as The Games were broadcast in more than 150 countries, attracting more viewers than ever before. The 2016 Games reached a TV audience of more than 4.1 billion people according to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). This was a 7% increase in the 3.8 billion people that watched the London 2012 event.