In just five days London will be invaded again by the sporting set. Just two weeks after the highly acclaimed 2012 Olympic Games, the city is bracing for another major sporting event, the 2012 Paralympics. From August 29 to September 6 disabled athletes from all over the world will converge on the capital of England for a full week of sporting events including swimming, archery, cycling, track and field and a number of wheelchair specific sports including basketball, rugby and tennis. What started in 1948 as small gathering of British World War 2 veterans has now grown into one of the largest international sporting events in the world with athletes from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.
The Paralympics are broken down into several categories for athletes to compete in: amputee, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, wheelchair, visually impaired and an “others” category that includes athletes with dwarfism, multiple sclerosis and congenital deformities. The first official Paralympics Summer games were held in Rome in 1960 and since then other host cities have included Tel Aviv, Atlanta, Barcelona, Tokyo and Beijing. In 1960 roughly 400 athletes competed and in 2008 in Beijing over 3,900 athletes took part representing 146 counties from around the world. The games are now staged directly after the Olympic Games and use the same host city and facilities as the Olympics.
In addition to working in conjunction with the International Olympic Committee, the Paralympics have attained major commercial partnerships with many Fortune 500 companies including Visa, McDonalds, Adidas, BMW, Coca Cola, DOW, General Electric and BP. The 2012 Paralympics will feature Oscar Pistorius, the South African sprinter known as the “Blade Runner” who was the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics when he took part in the men’s 400 meter race and the 4×400 relay. The 2012 Games begin on Wednesday August 29th at 8:30pm BST with the opening ceremonies at the brand new Olympic Stadium and will feature award winning director Stephen Daldry.
Although we at HDS MEDALLION® can’t attend the London games, we witnessed the excitement of a wheelchair basketball game at the Houston Abilities Expo. With their adapted chairs, their maneuverability was amazing. Men and women were on both teams playing equally well. And the competition was fierce. Couldn’t catch an action shot, but in the upper right is a picture of one of the players in his chair.