May 19, 2008

Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games

The Evolution of Paralympic Games

In 1948, Sir Ludwig Guttmann organized a sports competition involving World War II veterans with a spinal cord injury in Stoke Mandeville, England. Four years later, competitors from the Netherlands joined the games and an international movement was born. Olympic style games for athletes with a disability were organized for the first time in Rome in 1960, now called Paralympics. In Toronto in 1976, other disability groups were added and the idea of merging together different disability groups for international sport competitions was born. In the same year, the first Paralympic Winter Games took place in Sweden.

Today, the Paralympics are elite sport events for athletes from six different disability groups. They emphasize, however, the participants' athletic achievements rather than their disability. The movement has grown dramatically since its first days. The number of athletes participating in Summer Paralympic Games has increased from 400 athletes from 23 countries in Rome in 1960 to 3806 athletes from 136 countries in Athens in 2004.

The Paralympic Games have always been held in the same year as the Olympic Games. Since the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games and the Albertville 1992 Winter Paralympic Games they have also taken place at the same venues as the Olympics. On 19 June 2001, an agreement was signed between IOC and IPC securing this practice for the future. From the 2012 bid process onwards, the host city chosen to host the Olympic Games will be obliged to also host the Paralympics.

The Chinese city of Beijing will host the next 2008 Paralympic Games, whereas the Winter Paralympics 2010 will be in Vancouver, Canada. London will host the Paralympics in 2012.

(Credit: IPC. Click here for further information.)

I thought this was TOOO cool!  Jessica is a young girl who is a bilateral amputee and a Paralympic Swimmer who lives nearby us ~

On 10 May 2008, US Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long received the Juan Antonio Samaranch IOC President’s Disabled Athlete Award. The award was presented to Long during a ceremony at the 2008 Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, Great Britain.

This award adds to a series of accolades Jessica Long received. She became the first Paralympic athlete to win the AAU James E. Sullivan Award, presented to the best amateur athlete in the United States. Long has also been honoured as the US Olympic Committee’s 2006 Paralympian of the Year and Swimming World Magazine’s 2006 Disabled Swimmer of the Year.

Even though Jessica Long has just turned 16, she already has an impressive career to showcase: She owns 34 American records, 17 Pan-American records, two Paralympics records and five world records; she has won three gold medals at the ATHENS 2004 Paralympic Games and nine gold medals at the 2006 IPC Swimming World Championships in Durban.

The Juan Antonio Samaranch IOC President’s Disabled Athlete Award is presented annually to an athlete with a disability, past or present, who in the face of adversity displays courage, desire and athletic ability to achieve goals in the competitive arena. The award has been presented annually since 1990 as part of the United States Sports Academy Awards of Sport Medallion series, which pays “Tribute to the Artist and the Athlete.” Previous recipients include Jim McLaren, Andy Leonard, Linda Mastandrea, Marlon Shirley, Rudy Garcia-Tolson, Lilo Ljubisic and IPC President Sir Philip Craven.

WATCH Paralympic Sport TV  ~  Check it out!

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