What Are The Paralympic Games?
Team USA hasn't had its fill of the 2012 London games just yet — the Paralympics are right around the corner, in which athletes who have physical disabilities compete for the gold, silver and bronze medals for their respective countries. This year, South African sprint runner Oscar Pistorius, 25, or "Blade Runner," who made headlines when he became the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics, will also run in two Paralympics events — the 100m and the 4 x 100m relay in the T44 classification (below-knee amputees).
The Paralympics, which combine the words "parallel" and "Olympic" to indicate that the two sporting events are held in the same years and usually the same locations, were created by German neurologist Ludwig Guttman in 1948, who believed that sport could be used as a method of both physical and psychological therapy for WW2 veterans who had suffered spinal injuries. The Paralympics occur for both the Winter and Summer Olympic games, always following immediately afterward and featuring sporting events in several categories with competitors who have spinal cord injuries, amputations, cerebral palsy, visual impairment and the like.
The categories include archery, cycling, equestrian events, table tennis, swimming, shooting, sailing, judo, football, rowing, athletics (or track and field), powerlifting, and wheelchair events — fencing, rugby, tennis and basketball — among others.
The Paralympics, the sporting event for physically disabled contestants, are distinct from the Special Olympics World Games, which include athletes with intellectual disabilities, and the Deaflympics, in which deaf athletes compete. The official vision of the Paralympics, "To Enable Paralympic Athletes to Achieve Sporting Excellence and to Inspire and Excite the World," is in line with a motto Pistorius likes to advance: "You're not disabled by the disabilities you have," he says. "You are able by the abilities you have."
The 2012 Summer Paralympics, the 14th Paralympic Games, kick off in London at the opening ceremonies on August 29, 2012. The more than 20 Paralympic events last through September 9, 2012.
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