“Spirit in Motion.” Did you know that is the Paralympic movement motto? I didn’t until just a few days ago. As much as the Olympics is touted, much less recognition goes to the Paralympics.
I don’t think I am the only one in the dark about these games. I have long read about Para Equestrian athletes and their horses, but I admit to not being up to date on the games as a whole.
In doing some online reading, I found that Wikipedia provides a good summation:
“The Paralympic Games or Paralympics are a periodic series of international multi-sport events involving athletes with a range of disabilities, including impaired muscle power (e.g. paraplegia and quadriplegia, muscular dystrophy, post-polio syndrome, spina bifida), impaired passive range of movement, limb deficiency (e.g. amputation or dysmelia), leg length difference, short stature, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis, vision impairment and intellectual impairment. There are Winter and Summer Paralympic Games, which since the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, are held almost immediately following the respective Olympic Games. All Paralympic Games are governed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
The Paralympics has grown from a small gathering of British World War II veterans in 1948 to become one of the largest international sporting events by the early 21st century. The Paralympics has grown from 400 athletes with a disability from 23 countries in 1960 to thousands of competitors from over 100 countries at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Paralympians strive for equal treatment with non-disabled Olympic athletes, but there is a large funding gap between Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
The Paralympic Games are organized in parallel with the Olympic Games, while the IOC-recognized Special Olympics World Games include athletes with intellectual disabilities, and the Deaflympics include deaf athletes.
Given the wide variety of disabilities that Para athletes have, there are several categories in which the athletes compete. The allowable disabilities are broken down into ten eligible impairment types. The categories are impaired muscle power, impaired passive range of movement, limb deficiency, leg length difference, short stature, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis, vision impairment and intellectual impairment. These categories are further broken down into classifications, which vary from sport to sport.”
I also found out that there are 28 Paralymic sports divided between the Summer and Winter games.
22 SUMMER SPORTS
Shooting Para sport
6 WINTER SPORTS
Para ice hockey
If you’d like to read specifically about Para Equestrian events, both at the Tokyo games and more broadly, here are some helpful resources to explore:
The 2020 Paralympic Games begin in Tokyo, Japan on August 24th, 2021. Media coverage of the games has historically been lacking. I hope that changes this year. I know I’ll be watching for TV and other coverage, hoping that the Games, the athletes (and the horses!) get the exposure they deserve.