by Deepanshu Srivastava
Paralympic Games were in much limelight since they commenced on August 24. Interestingly, the Paralympic Games were founded by Sir Ludwig Guttmann, a Jewish doctor who had started a spinal injury center at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, England. For faster rehabilitation of 16 injured servicemen and women, he also organised a competition between them in archery which later became a regular part of the rehabilitation center. The competition was named the ‘Stoke Mandeville Games’ (SMG). Its first edition was organised in July 1948. The SMG later became the Paralympic Games. The first Paralympic Games were hosted by Rome (Italy) in 1960. 23 countries with about 400 athletes participated in these games. In order to give these games an international character, the International Paralympic Committee ( IPC ) was formed in 1989 as the Global governing body of the Paralympic movement.
These games are now held after every 4 years. They succeed in the Summer Olympic Games and are staged by the host country of the Olympic Games of that year. These games are organised jointly by the IPC and a few non – para national federations. For example, table tennis is governed by the TT Federation of India.
Based on the types and extents of the disability of participants, classifications of para-players are done. Classifications, which are done by qualified classifiers, play an important role. Players compete against those players who have a similar level of ability. Based on the disabilities of players, each sport is also classified. A sport can have more than one classification. For example, table tennis has 10 classifications. There are 10 different types of physical impairments. They include orthopedic issues, nerve problems, and problems of the central nervous system. Even vision and intellectual impairments are also included in these deficiencies.
The year 2020 para – games were staged in Japan, which is the only country so far that has hosted these games twice – In 2020 and in 1964. For the first time, Badminton and Taekwondo made entry into these games held in Tokyo. Another feature of the Tokyo Para Olympic Games was the participation of a refugee paralympic team led by a US Paralympian, Ileana Rodriguez, herself a refugee. In total 4403 para-athletes participated in the Tokyo Paralympics. This included 2550 male and 1853 female athletes. The TV viewership also surpassed the previous number of viewers having a 4. 10 billion cumulative audiences set at Rio 2016. In the 2020 Tokyo games, 22 sports with 539 events were held between 163 participating countries. The above data shows the popularity of these games not only among the participants but also in the TV viewers.
India started taking part in Paralympic Games in 1972 and the total medals won by the Indian contingent since then have been 12 including 4 medals at the Rio Games 2016. In Tokyo, India competed in 9 sports with 54 athletes. The best-ever Olympics Games for India just went by and there was a curiosity among sports lovers whether Indian Paralympians could surpass the tally of seven medals won by the Indian Olympians. The gallant Indian Paralympians have proved their supremacy by winning a significant number of19 medals ( 5 Gold, 8 Silver, 6 Bronze ) at Tokyo. What a significant rise in medal tally from the previous Rio Olympics! The full credit goes to our seventeen valorous para Olympians. With 12 packed days of sporting actions, the games came to an end on September 5, 2021, which were held under tight security due to COVID – 19 restrictions.
About the Author:
A Post Graduate in English as well as in Journalism and Mass Communication, Deepanshu Srivastava is a sports and fiction writer from Pune.