The History and Birth of Paralympics – UK Sporting History
Being able to play a sport should not be constrained to only a particular sector of people. The world is so accustomed to stereotyping people based on what most people can do and thus giving the name ‘differently-abled’ or ‘disabled’ to those who are not the same as the others. In truth, everyone has skills and abilities that cannot be measured on a scale or even stereotyped.
Today everyone enjoys equal right and events for all kinds of people but starting the era of inclusion was not an easy one. Back in 1948, the first-ever Paralympics competition for archery was the start of sports for the disabled. Ludwig Guttman is the man who should be given credit, and who deserve it, for the spark in Paralympics. When the 2nd world war was in full swing, there were spinal units that were put up all around Britain. The director of these spinal units was Ludwig Guttman. He was a German by birth and a Jewish neurosurgeon who was a refugee from a Nazi camp. He made the breakthrough for the first time in rehabilitating paralysed victims of war. These cases were called hopeless until what Ludwig was able to prove a miracle.
The Start of the Paralympics
While Ludwig was the doctor behind the revolution, the hospital that he headed was Britians Stoke Mandeville. The injured victims in the war began racing on their wheelchair as part of a dressing exercise every day. They would race each other from their beds and strive to be the first to get dressed and hop into their wheelchairs as a fun activity to pass their time. This was in the year 1944. Four years later, Britain hosted the Olympics in London, and an archery competition took place in the lawns of the hospital of Mandeville. The competition was held against the war victims in Richmond. Even two women participated in the event.
The Evolution of The Sporting Events and The Paralympics
Six years later, there was a Mandeville Festival that was hosted in the same lawns and over 12,000 people looked on as netball matches were played by war-victims and survivors. There were even those who had suffered mining injuries on wheelchairs and the court. The games were a big hit and very impressive. After the hit of the festival in Britain, Rome was interested in getting involved too and started hosting sports for the disables with over 450 disabled athletes participating in their sporting festival from around the world.
Soon, sports were being included in the Olympics for the disabled, and a whole set of events were dedicated only to the differently-abled citizens of the world. Today the world enjoys sporting activities and events that are inclusive thanks to what was started decades ago in the lawns of a British hospital. It is the second-largest sporting event in the entire world, and over 5000 disabled sportsmen are known to compete in over 20 sports. The venues and the fully accessible areas are a delight, thanks to one man’s ability to include and a country’s ability to encourage.