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Origin of Paralympics

The first official Paralympic Games was held in Rome, Italy, in 1960, and since that time the Paralympic Games have continued to grow in size and stature. The first Games featured 400 athletes from 23 countries competing in eight sports - archery, athletics, dartchery, snooker, swimming, table tennis, wheelchair fencing and wheelchair basketball. The legendary Sir Ludwig Guttmann is credited as the man responsible for founding the Paralympic Games and the Paralympic Movement as a whole.  Guttmann was one of the leading pre-World War II neurologists in Germany and worked at the Jewish Hospital in Breslau.

The 1980s saw a rapid growth in the Paralympic Movement.  In 1982 the original governing body for the Paralympic Movement was formed, known as the International Co-ordination Committee of World Sports Organisations for the Disabled (ICC).  The ICC was established by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who realised that, with the Paralympic Movement rapidly growing, the need for a single governing body to look after parasport was imperative. Finally, on 22 September 1989, the International Paralympic Committee was founded as an international non-profit organisation in Dusseldorf, Germany to act as the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement. The word “Paralympic” derives from the Greek preposition “para” (beside or alongside) and the word “Olympic”. Its meaning is that Paralympics are the parallel Games to the Olympics and illustrates how the two movements exist side-by-side.

By: Swati Kaushal


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