History of the Paralympics

The origins of the Paralympic Games can be traced back to the end of World War II. In 1944 the British government asked Dr Ludwig Guttmann, a newly emigrated German neurologist and neurosurgeon, to set up a spinal cord injuries unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire to cater for the medical and psychological needs of the large numbers of soldiers and civilians who had been injured during the War.

At Stoke Mandeville, Guttmann introduced sport as a form of recreation and rehabilitation. In 1948 he set up a competition between sports clubs and other hospitals to coincide with the 1948 Olympic Games being held in London that year. The Stoke Mandeville Games grew steadily and in 1960, 400 athletes from 21 nations went to compete at the Games in Rome, Italy. This was retrospectively recognised as the first Paralympic Games.

After 1960 the Games continued to develop and feature more events for different impairment groups.

Most recently, at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, more than 4,200 athletes from 164 nations competed across 503 medal events.

After the success of the summer Games, a winter Games was developed and in 1976 the first Paralympic Winter Games were held in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden.

The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games is set to feature 1,650 athletes from 45 nations who will compete across 72 medal events.

On September 22, 1989, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) was established to govern elite sports for disabled athletes. Today, the IPC works with 170 NPCs around the world. The National Paralympic Committee for Great Britain is the British Paralympic Association.

Find out more by visiting the website of the British Paralympic Association www.paralympics.org.uk