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Top 10 Paralympic Facts

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Paris Paralympics 2024

Content updated: 15th May 2024

France will host its first ever Summer Paralympic Games from the 28th August to the 8th September 2024 so the countdown to the Paralympic Games is officially ON! To help celebrate, we've pulled together some of the most amazing facts to get us inspired until the competition torch gets lit up once more.


Did you know? Paralympics edition!

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. ‘Paralympics’ comes from the Greek preposition ‘para’ which means ‘alongside’ - it’s the event running alongside the Olympics.


2. The 2024 Summer Paralympics programme will include 22 sports and 549 events

From Archery and Badminton to Table Tennis and Rowing, the 2024 Summer Paralympics really will have something for everyone to enjoy watching. Find out more about the full list of sports and events by visiting ParalympicsGB | Summer sports.


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 was been moulded entirely from metal extracted from recycled consumer electronics, marking the first time when the public had 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. 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. 


9. 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!


10. Paralympic athletes compete in six different disability groups

The six different disability groups include: amputee, cerebral palsy, visual impairment, spinal cord injuries, intellectual disability, and "les autres" (athletes whose disability does not fit into one of the other categories, including dwarfism). Each disability group has its own classification system to ensure fair competition. 

This classification system assesses the impact of an athlete's impairment on their ability to perform in a specific sport and groups them accordingly. It allows athletes with similar levels of impairment to compete against each other, creating a level playing field and promoting equitable competition.

Discover more about the classifications on the International Paralympic Committee website.

Find out more about our partnership with ParalympicsGB

Did you know that Nestle Cereals are proud partners of ParalympicsGB?

Not only that, Cheerios and ParalympicsGB are on a mission to Bring The Cheer to the team as they compete on the biggest stage of all at the Paris Paralympic Game. Check out our Nestle Cereals and ParalympicsGB partnership page and make as much noise as possible!

Discover more about how you can support ParalympicsGB at paralympics.org.uk.