BLOG: What does the ‘Para’ in Paralympics mean?
The word “Paralympic“ derives from the Greek preposition “para“ (beside or alongside) and the word “Olympic“.
Its meaning is that Paralympics are the parallel Games to the Olympics and illustrates how the two movements exist side-by-side.
Whilst the first Paralympic Games were held in 1960, it was not until the summer Paralympic Games in Seoul, Korea in 1988 and the Paralympic Winter Games in Albertville, France in 1992 that the Paralympic Games and Olympic Games truly ran side by side. It was at those Games where both the Olympic and Paralympic Games were held in the same city for the first time. Since then, all Olympic and Paralympic Games have been held in the same city every four years thanks to an agreement between the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
In order to uncover the history of the term “Paralympic“, we need to go back to the founding of the IPC back in September 1989. The IPC was founded as an international non-profit organisation in Dusseldorf, Germany, to act as the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement.
The history of the Paralympic Games
Whilst sport for athletes with impairments has existed for over 100 years, it was not until after World War II that the formation of the Paralympic Games took place.
Following the war, organised sports for athletes with impairments (called today Para athletes) were set up to assist a large number of war veterans and civilians who had been injured during the war.
You can read more about the history of the Paralympic Games in one of our previous posts but here is a brief summary.
Whilst the first Paralympic Games were held in Rome in 1960, the start of the Paralympic Movement dates back much earlier to 1944. Following World War Two, the British Government opened up a spinal injuries centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital which grew into a rehabilitation centre.
It was in Stoke Mandeville that recreational and then competitive sport evolved and in 1948, Sir Ludwig Guttmann organised the first competitive games for athletes with impairments. As chance would have it, the day of the first competitive games coincided with the Opening Ceremony of the 1948 London Olympic Games.
It was 12 years until the informal Games set up by Dr Guttmann were transformed and the first Paralympic Games were held in Rome in 1960 with 400 athletes from 23 countries.
Jump ahead 60 years to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games – the first Paralympics ever to be postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and we are counting down to the start of the Paralympics with Para athletes from all over the world, including New Zealand, preparing to head to Tokyo to compete.
What will the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games hold for Para athletes?
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will represent a very different experience for Para athletes attending the Paralympics.
The COVID-19 pandemic means that the Paralympic Village experience will be very different to past Paralympics. The pandemic means that teams will be kept separate at all times in the village and competitors will be restricted to contact with competitors in the same events only.
Whilst this will be a disappointment for some, the opportunity to compete in the Paralympic Games, for some Para athletes, for the first time, is too big an opportunity to miss out on and every precaution will be put in place to ensure the safety of all competitors at Tokyo 2020.
New Zealand will take a team of 29 Para athletes to Tokyo to compete across six different sporting disciplines including Para athletics, Para canoe, Para cycling, Para swimming, Shooting Para sport and Wheelchair rugby.
|Paralympian/Para athlete||Resides||Classification||Impairment (Disability)||Coach||Club|
|Paralympian #183 Holly Robinson||Dunedin||F46||Limb deficiency||Raylene Bates||Athletics Taieri|
|Caitlin Dore #192||Christchurch||F37||Cerebral palsy||Hayden Hall||Athletics Taieri|
|Anna Grimaldi MNZM #195||Dunedin||T47||Limb deficiency||Brent Ward||Hill City University Athletic Club|
|William Stedman #208||Christchurch||T36||Cerebral palsy||George Edwards||Port Hills Athletic Club|
|Lisa Adams||Rotorua||F37||Cerebral palsy||Dame Valerie Adams||Lake City Athletic Club|
|Danielle Aitchison||Hamilton||T36||Cerebral palsy||Alan McDonald||Hamilton City Hawks Athletics|
|Anna Steven||Auckland||T64||Amputee||Hamish Meacham||North Harbour Bay Athletics|
|Ben Tuimaseve||Auckland||F37||Cerebral palsy||Paralympian #31 John Eden||Owairaka Amateur Athletic and Harrier Club|
|Scott Martlew #198||Christchurch||KL2/VL3||Limb deficiency||Leigh Barker||Arawa Canoe Club|
|Corbin Hart||Auckland||KL3||Limb deficiency||Gavin Elmiger||North Shore Canoe Club|
|Stephen Hills #196||New Plymouth||T2||Right side hemiplegia||Stu MacDonald||Hawera Cycling Club|
|Sarah Ellington||Auckland||C2||Spinal cord injury||Stu MacDonald||Counties Manukau Cycling|
|Eltje Malzbender||Cambridge||T1||Traumatic brain injury (hypertonia)||Michael Bland||Morrinsville Wheelers|
|Rory Mead||USA||H2||Spinal cord injury||Stu MacDonald||Wellington Masters Cycling Club|
|Nicole Murray||Otorohanga||C5||Limb deficiency||Stu MacDonald||Waikato|
|Anna Taylor||Cambridge||C4||Cauda equina (partial loss of power)||Damian Wiseman||Te Awamutu|
|Sophie Pascoe #166||Christchurch||S9, SB8, SM9||Single limb deficiency||Roly Crichton||QE11|
|Nikita Howarth #179||Te Awamutu||S7, SB7, SM7||Double limb deficiency||Mat Woofe||Hamilton Aquatic|
|Tupou Neiufi #201||Auckland||S8, SB8, SM8||Hypertonia||Sheldon Kemp||Pukekohe|
|Jesse Reynolds #205||Auckland||S9, SB8, SM9||Single limb deficiency||Simon Mayne||Fairfield|
|Shooting Para sport|
|Michael Johnson MNZM #148||Auckland||SH2C||Spinal cord injury||Freddy Krumm||ParaFed Auckland Shooting Club|
|Hayden Barton-Cootes||Auckland||3.0 P||Spinal cord injury||Greg Mitchell|
|Cody Everson||Christchurch||1.0 P||Spinal cord injury||Greg Mitchell|
|Robert Hewitt||Hamilton||2.0 P||Spinal cord injury||Greg Mitchell|
|Barney Koneferenisi||Auckland||3.5||Amputee||Greg Mitchell|
|Tainafi Lefono||Auckland||2.0 P||Spinal cord injury||Greg Mitchell|
|Gareth Lynch||Auckland||1.0 (1)||Spinal cord injury||Greg Mitchell|
|Gavin Rolton||Wellington||0.5 P||Spinal cord injury||Greg Mitchell|
|Mike Todd||Christchurch||2.0 P||Muscle degeneration||Greg Mitchell|