Posted on Monday 9th August, 2021

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 athleteResidesClassificationImpairment (Disability)CoachClub
Para athletics
Paralympian #183 Holly RobinsonDunedinF46Limb deficiencyRaylene BatesAthletics Taieri
Caitlin Dore #192ChristchurchF37Cerebral palsyHayden HallAthletics Taieri
Anna Grimaldi MNZM #195DunedinT47Limb deficiencyBrent WardHill City University Athletic Club
William Stedman #208ChristchurchT36Cerebral palsyGeorge EdwardsPort Hills Athletic Club
Lisa AdamsRotoruaF37Cerebral palsyDame Valerie AdamsLake City Athletic Club
Danielle AitchisonHamiltonT36Cerebral palsyAlan McDonaldHamilton City Hawks Athletics
Anna StevenAucklandT64AmputeeHamish MeachamNorth Harbour Bay Athletics
Ben TuimaseveAucklandF37Cerebral palsyParalympian #31 John EdenOwairaka Amateur Athletic and Harrier Club
Para canoe
Scott Martlew #198ChristchurchKL2/VL3Limb deficiencyLeigh BarkerArawa Canoe Club
Corbin HartAucklandKL3Limb deficiencyGavin ElmigerNorth Shore Canoe Club
Para cycling
Stephen Hills #196New PlymouthT2Right side hemiplegiaStu MacDonaldHawera Cycling Club
Sarah EllingtonAucklandC2Spinal cord injuryStu MacDonaldCounties Manukau Cycling
Eltje MalzbenderCambridgeT1Traumatic brain injury (hypertonia)Michael BlandMorrinsville Wheelers
Rory MeadUSAH2Spinal cord injuryStu MacDonaldWellington Masters Cycling Club
Nicole MurrayOtorohangaC5Limb deficiencyStu MacDonaldWaikato
Anna TaylorCambridgeC4Cauda equina (partial loss of power)Damian WisemanTe Awamutu
Para swimming
Sophie Pascoe #166ChristchurchS9, SB8, SM9Single limb deficiencyRoly CrichtonQE11
Nikita Howarth #179Te AwamutuS7, SB7, SM7Double limb deficiencyMat WoofeHamilton Aquatic
Tupou Neiufi #201AucklandS8, SB8, SM8HypertoniaSheldon KempPukekohe
Jesse Reynolds #205AucklandS9, SB8, SM9Single limb deficiencySimon MayneFairfield
Shooting Para sport
Michael Johnson MNZM #148AucklandSH2CSpinal cord injuryFreddy KrummParaFed Auckland Shooting Club
Wheelchair rugby
Hayden Barton-CootesAuckland3.0 PSpinal cord injuryGreg Mitchell
Cody EversonChristchurch1.0 PSpinal cord injuryGreg Mitchell
Robert HewittHamilton2.0 PSpinal cord injuryGreg Mitchell
Barney KoneferenisiAuckland3.5AmputeeGreg Mitchell
Tainafi LefonoAuckland2.0 PSpinal cord injuryGreg Mitchell
Gareth LynchAuckland1.0 (1)Spinal cord injuryGreg Mitchell
Gavin RoltonWellington0.5 PSpinal cord injuryGreg Mitchell
Mike ToddChristchurch2.0 PMuscle degenerationGreg Mitchell