Today marks just 100 days until the event the world will be watching, no not those games starting with ‘O’ and ending in ‘pic’, but the widely known about and often reported on Paralympic Games- well, this is true in an ideal world anyway. From the 29th of August until the 9th of September the London 2012 Paralympic Games will take place in the shadow of the Olympic Games which will have ceased just a short period of time prior to the commencement of the Paralympics.
Little is known or reported about the Paralympic Games, so what’s it all about?
The Paralympic Games are open to competitors with a physical disability, including those who are visually impaired or deaf. The Paralympic Games have also included athletes with an intellectual impairment in both the 1996 and 2000 Paralympics, but these participants were excluded from both the 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games after cheating on the part of the Spanish team particularly in the intellectually disabled basketball team. These athletes will return to the Paralympic Games in London for the first time since the Sydney 2000 Paralympics.
The London Paralympics will be the biggest to be held so far with approximately 4,200 athletes from 165 countries participating in the event and 16 of those nations will be competing for the first time in London.
The 4,200 athletes participating will compete in a total of 21 different sports, with the majority of sports included in the Paralympics also featured as Olympic sports save for some modifications to cater for differing levels of impairment.
This year athletes will compete in:
- Track and Road Cycling
- Table Tennis
- Sitting Volleyball
- Wheelchair Basketball
- Wheelchair Fencing
- Wheelchair Rugby
- Wheelchair Tennis
The sports that are unique to the Paralympics are:
- Boccia, which is similar to Bocce
- Goalball which is similar to European Handball for visually impaired participants
- Powerlifting which is Weightlifting but performed different for participants with a higher level of physical impairment
- Sitting Volleyball which is similar to regular Indoor Volleyball, but performed seated on the court
- Wheelchair Basketball which is similar to Basketball but undertaken in a wheelchair
- Wheelchair Fencing which is like regular Fencing but for people in a wheelchair
- Wheelchair Rugby which is also know as “Murderball” and involves similar play to the multiple forms of rugby but is performed indoors
- Wheelchair Tennis which is like Tennis but competitors play in a wheelchair
The Australian team is expected to do well, particularly, as has been the case historically, in swimming, athletics, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball where medal prospects are traditionally very strong.
One of the best sports to watch is the swimming which sees people with a range of impairments competing in classifications with people who have similar abilities and compete in the same manner as those in the Olympics. It is amazing to see double arm amputees finish the race head first on the touch pads.
Wheelchair Rugby or “Murderball” is one of the most spectacular sports to observe that involves people in a wheelchair. This sport sees players with specially designed wheelchairs with heavy duty protection play in much the same way as rugby players but by “tackling” each other by careering into their opponents wheelchair when they are in possession of the ball. The objective, like in the rugby codes is to get the ball over a line.
Wheelchair Basketball is another brilliant sport and very similar in sheer physicality to Wheelchair Rugby and as mentioned previously is practically identical to everyday Basketball but with the added difficulty of shooting for baskets from a sitting position in a wheelchair.
BROADCASTING OF THE PARALYMPIC GAMES
The Paralympics will again be broadcast on television and radio by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation who have been a strong supporter of the Paralympics and broadcast over 120 hours of content from the previous Paralympics in Beijing in 2008. There will be some live coverage and some highlights packages as there has been previously.
Both the opening and closing ceremony will also be televised by the national broadcaster.
SO THERE’S THE BACKGROUND
So with just 100 days to go before the London 2012 Paralympic Games commence, you now have a bit of a background (presuming you didn’t prior to reading) of just what the Paralympics are about and why they are so amazing and hopefully a million more reasons to take an interest and watch or listen to some phenomenal sporting performances of the highest level.