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22/08/2012 09:59 | By Maureen O'Hare
The history of the Paralympic Games

1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games



1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games (© Rex Features)
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Around 4200 elite athletes from around the world will gather in London this August for the 14th Paralympic Games. The games are open to athletes with conditions including mobility disabilities, amputations, blindness, and cerebral palsy and, with 503 events across 21 sports, it's one of the biggest international sports events in the world. Not bad for an event that started out 64 years ago with a handful of World War II veterans at an NHS hospital in an English village.

Read on to discover the story of the Paralympic Games...

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The history of the Paralympic Games From a small gathering of WWII veterans to one of the world's biggest international sporting events, here is the story of the Paralympic Games Maureen O'Hare 2012-08-22T09:59:56true1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic GamesAround 4200 elite athletes from around the world will gather in London this August for the 14th Paralympic Games. The games are open to athletes with conditions including mobility disabilities, amputations, blindness, and cerebral palsy and, with 503 events across 21 sports, it's one of the biggest international sports events in the world. Not bad for an event that started out 64 years ago with a handful of World War II veterans at an NHS hospital in an English village.Read on to discover the story of the Paralympic Games...topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V21948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)Before the ParalympicsAthletes with disabilities competed in the Olympics as far back as 1904, when US competitor George Eyser managed the incredible feat of winning six medals in a single day, including three golds, in the gymnastics... despite having a wooden leg. Eyser (pictured above centre, with team-mates) had lost his left leg after being run over by a train in his childhood. Other pioneering disabled athletes include Hungarian right-arm amputee Károly Takács, who competed left-handed in shooting events in 1948 and 1952, and Danish equestrian Lis Hartel who won silver medals in dressage at the 1952 and 1956 Olympics, despite being paralysed below the knees as a result of polio. topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)The Stoke Mandeville GamesGerman neurologist Sir Ludwig Guttmann was one of the founding fathers of organised physical activities for disabled people and it was his pioneering rehabilitation work at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, England, which led to the development of the Paralympic Games as we know them today.Guttmann spent his early career in Germany but, as life became increasingly difficult for Jews under the Nazi regime, in 1939 the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) assisted the passage of Guttmann and his family to Oxford, England. In September 1943, Guttmann founded the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital - there were no shortage of cases due to the number of injured young men returning home from the war.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)1948 International Wheelchair GamesGuttmann was a great believer in sport as a method of therapy, using it to help build physical strength and self-respect. Working with the World War II veterans under his care, he got the wheelchair-bound men playing sports including hockey, netball, archery and javelin throw. As London was hosting the 1948 Olympic Games, Guttman scheduled Stoke Mandeville's own sporting competition to coincide with the event's opening day: 28 July 1948. The participants at the 1948 International Wheelchair Games were just a small gathering of British war veterans, no international element as yet - but it was to be the start of something great.Pictured: 6 August 1953 - A Dutch archery team practise for the 1953 Wheelchair Olympics at Stoke MandevilletopThis field has been disabled for Gallery V21948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1952 - 1960By 1952 the Stoke Mandeville Games featured 130 competitors, and Dutch veterans took part alongside the British, making it the first international competition of its kind. The first official Paralympic Games, no longer open solely to war veterans, was held in Rome in 1960 alongside the official IOC 1960 Summer Olympics. (Although at the time the 1960 games were known as the Ninth Stoke Mandeville Games, rather than the Paralympics). 400 athletes from 23 countries competed and, since 1960, the Paralympic Games have taken place in the same year as the Olympic Games.The International Stoke Mandeville Games continue to this day as the IWAS World Games (International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports), distinct from the Paralympics. Pictured: 6 August 1953 - A game of netball between a Dutch team from Aardenburg and the British team at Stoke Mandeville HospitaltopThis field has been disabled for Gallery V21952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)ExpansionThe Games were initially open only to athletes in wheelchairs but at the 1976 Summer Games in Toronto, athletes with different disabilities were included for the first time at a Summer Paralympics. With the inclusion of more disability classifications the 1976 Summer Games expanded to 1,600 athletes from 40 countries. 1976 was also the first year the Winter Paralympics were held, in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden.Pictured: 28 July 1981 - Kari Nielsen of Norway putting the shottopThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)CategoriesParalympic athletes today compete within six broad categories: amputee, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, wheelchair, visually impaired, and Les Autres (literally 'The Others': athletes with disabilities that do not fall into the other five categories - these include dwarfism, multiple sclerosis, and congenital deformities). These categories are further broken down into classifications, which vary from sport to sport. The classification system has led to cheating controversies revolving around athletes who over-stated their disabilities, in addition to the use of performance-enhancing drugs seen in other events.Pictured: 17 September 2008 - China's Wang Yafeng and Brazil's Damiao Ramos (left) fight for the ball during the men's Football 5-A-Side finals in BeijingtopThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)What's in a name?The 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul was the first time the term 'Paralympics' came into official use, although the origin of the name is unclear. It's believed to have originally been a portmanteau of the words 'Olympic' and 'paraplegic', but as this fails to represent the broad cross-section of athletes competing, the formal explanation of the name is that it derives from the Greek word pará, meaning 'alongside', and thus refers to a competition held in parallel with the Olympic Games.Pictured: 24 April 2012 - Venezuelan sprinter Willy MartineztopThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)Most successful OlympiansUS athlete Trischa Zorn (pictured) is the most decorated Paralympian in history. She competed in the blind swimming events and won a total of 55 medals, 41 of which are gold. Her Paralympic career spanned 24 years from 1980 to 2004. Ragnhild Myklebust of Norway holds the record for the most medals ever won at the Winter Paralympic Games. Between 1988 and 2002 she won 22 medals, 17 of which were gold. topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)The Paralympics todayParalympians strive for equal treatment with non-disabled Olympic athletes, but there is still a large funding gap between Olympic and Paralympic athletes and the Games attract considerably less media attention. However, tickets for the 2012 Paralympics have been in extremely high demand - the event has already outsold the Beijing and Sydney Games and it could well be the first ever full sellout of tickets in the history of the Paralympics. Pictured: 7 February 2012 - Japanese sprinter Maya NakanishitopThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Stoke Mandeville legacyThe London 2012 Paralympics mascot is named Mandeville in celebration of the Stoke Mandeville's role in the development of the Paralympics Games and to the Games' return to the UK, 64 years after the 1948 International Wheelchair Games. topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)
The history of the Paralympic Games From a small gathering of WWII veterans to one of the world's biggest international sporting events, here is the story of the Paralympic Games Maureen O'Hare 2012-08-22T09:59:56true1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic GamesAround 4200 elite athletes from around the world will gather in London this August for the 14th Paralympic Games. The games are open to athletes with conditions including mobility disabilities, amputations, blindness, and cerebral palsy and, with 503 events across 21 sports, it's one of the biggest international sports events in the world. Not bad for an event that started out 64 years ago with a handful of World War II veterans at an NHS hospital in an English village.Read on to discover the story of the Paralympic Games...topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V21948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)1948 - 2012: The story of the Paralympic Games(©Rex Features)Before the ParalympicsAthletes with disabilities competed in the Olympics as far back as 1904, when US competitor George Eyser managed the incredible feat of winning six medals in a single day, including three golds, in the gymnastics... despite having a wooden leg. Eyser (pictured above centre, with team-mates) had lost his left leg after being run over by a train in his childhood. Other pioneering disabled athletes include Hungarian right-arm amputee Károly Takács, who competed left-handed in shooting events in 1948 and 1952, and Danish equestrian Lis Hartel who won silver medals in dressage at the 1952 and 1956 Olympics, despite being paralysed below the knees as a result of polio. topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)Before the Paralympics(©Wikipedia/Public Domain)The Stoke Mandeville GamesGerman neurologist Sir Ludwig Guttmann was one of the founding fathers of organised physical activities for disabled people and it was his pioneering rehabilitation work at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, England, which led to the development of the Paralympic Games as we know them today.Guttmann spent his early career in Germany but, as life became increasingly difficult for Jews under the Nazi regime, in 1939 the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) assisted the passage of Guttmann and his family to Oxford, England. In September 1943, Guttmann founded the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital - there were no shortage of cases due to the number of injured young men returning home from the war.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville Games(©Rex Features)1948 International Wheelchair GamesGuttmann was a great believer in sport as a method of therapy, using it to help build physical strength and self-respect. Working with the World War II veterans under his care, he got the wheelchair-bound men playing sports including hockey, netball, archery and javelin throw. As London was hosting the 1948 Olympic Games, Guttman scheduled Stoke Mandeville's own sporting competition to coincide with the event's opening day: 28 July 1948. The participants at the 1948 International Wheelchair Games were just a small gathering of British war veterans, no international element as yet - but it was to be the start of something great.Pictured: 6 August 1953 - A Dutch archery team practise for the 1953 Wheelchair Olympics at Stoke MandevilletopThis field has been disabled for Gallery V21948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1948 International Wheelchair Games(©Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)1952 - 1960By 1952 the Stoke Mandeville Games featured 130 competitors, and Dutch veterans took part alongside the British, making it the first international competition of its kind. The first official Paralympic Games, no longer open solely to war veterans, was held in Rome in 1960 alongside the official IOC 1960 Summer Olympics. (Although at the time the 1960 games were known as the Ninth Stoke Mandeville Games, rather than the Paralympics). 400 athletes from 23 countries competed and, since 1960, the Paralympic Games have taken place in the same year as the Olympic Games.The International Stoke Mandeville Games continue to this day as the IWAS World Games (International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports), distinct from the Paralympics. Pictured: 6 August 1953 - A game of netball between a Dutch team from Aardenburg and the British team at Stoke Mandeville HospitaltopThis field has been disabled for Gallery V21952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)1952 - 1960(©MacGregor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)ExpansionThe Games were initially open only to athletes in wheelchairs but at the 1976 Summer Games in Toronto, athletes with different disabilities were included for the first time at a Summer Paralympics. With the inclusion of more disability classifications the 1976 Summer Games expanded to 1,600 athletes from 40 countries. 1976 was also the first year the Winter Paralympics were held, in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden.Pictured: 28 July 1981 - Kari Nielsen of Norway putting the shottopThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)Expansion(©Clive Limpkin / Associated Newspapers / Rex Features)CategoriesParalympic athletes today compete within six broad categories: amputee, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, wheelchair, visually impaired, and Les Autres (literally 'The Others': athletes with disabilities that do not fall into the other five categories - these include dwarfism, multiple sclerosis, and congenital deformities). These categories are further broken down into classifications, which vary from sport to sport. The classification system has led to cheating controversies revolving around athletes who over-stated their disabilities, in addition to the use of performance-enhancing drugs seen in other events.Pictured: 17 September 2008 - China's Wang Yafeng and Brazil's Damiao Ramos (left) fight for the ball during the men's Football 5-A-Side finals in BeijingtopThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)Categories(©REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV)What's in a name?The 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul was the first time the term 'Paralympics' came into official use, although the origin of the name is unclear. It's believed to have originally been a portmanteau of the words 'Olympic' and 'paraplegic', but as this fails to represent the broad cross-section of athletes competing, the formal explanation of the name is that it derives from the Greek word pará, meaning 'alongside', and thus refers to a competition held in parallel with the Olympic Games.Pictured: 24 April 2012 - Venezuelan sprinter Willy MartineztopThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)What's in a name?(©REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)Most successful OlympiansUS athlete Trischa Zorn (pictured) is the most decorated Paralympian in history. She competed in the blind swimming events and won a total of 55 medals, 41 of which are gold. Her Paralympic career spanned 24 years from 1980 to 2004. Ragnhild Myklebust of Norway holds the record for the most medals ever won at the Winter Paralympic Games. Between 1988 and 2002 she won 22 medals, 17 of which were gold. topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)Most successful Olympians(©Getty Images)The Paralympics todayParalympians strive for equal treatment with non-disabled Olympic athletes, but there is still a large funding gap between Olympic and Paralympic athletes and the Games attract considerably less media attention. However, tickets for the 2012 Paralympics have been in extremely high demand - the event has already outsold the Beijing and Sydney Games and it could well be the first ever full sellout of tickets in the history of the Paralympics. Pictured: 7 February 2012 - Japanese sprinter Maya NakanishitopThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Paralympics today(©REUTERS/Ochitakao/Handout)The Stoke Mandeville legacyThe London 2012 Paralympics mascot is named Mandeville in celebration of the Stoke Mandeville's role in the development of the Paralympics Games and to the Games' return to the UK, 64 years after the 1948 International Wheelchair Games. topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)The Stoke Mandeville legacy(©Rex Features)

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