Thursday, 29 September 2011

Paralympic Games 2012 - Athletics

Where: Olympic Stadium (track and field events); The Mall (road events)
When: Friday 31 August – Sunday 9 September 2012
Medal Events: 170
Athletes: 1,100 (740 men, 360 women)

With 1,100 athletes competing for 170 gold medals, Athletics is the largest sport on the Paralympic programme. There are various different strands to the competition: track events, in distances from 100m to 5,000m; field events, which include the High Jump and Shot Put; and the Marathon, which is held on the roads. Some athletes compete in wheelchairs or throwing frames, others with prostheses, and others with the guidance of a sighted companion.

The Basics
Staged in the brand new Olympic Stadium, the track events will be held over distances ranging from 100m to 5000m. Track events may begin with heats, with the best athletes eventually qualifying for the finals.

The field events broadly fall into two categories. The list of throwing events includes Discus, Javelin, Shot Put and Club Throw, while the programme of jumping events includes High Jump, Long Jump and Triple Jump.

The men’s and women’s Marathons will be held on the streets of central London on the 9 September, and will be straight finals.

As well as having the largest number of events and athletes at the Games, Athletics also has the largest number of classes. Each athlete is given a two-digit number: the first digit indicates the nature of the athlete’s impairment while the second indicates the amount of functional ability the athlete has. The lower the number, the greater the impact that the athlete’s impairment has on his or her ability to compete.
• Classes 11-13 are for athletes with visual impairment.
• Class 20 is for athletes with an intellectual impairment.
• Classes 31-38 are for athletes with Cerebral Palsy, with classes 31 to 34 using a wheelchair to compete.
• Classes 40-46 are for athletes with a loss of limb or limb deficiency.
• Classes 51-58 cover wheelchair racers or field athletes who throw from a seated position.
A ‘T’ or an ‘F’ before each two-digit number shows whether the athlete is competing on the track or in the field.

Paralympics Athletics - Past & Present
Part of the Paralympic programme since the first Games in Rome in 1960, the sport of Athletics has produced some of the most iconic images in the history of the Paralympic movement, with legendary figures such as Louise Sauvage, Baroness Grey-Thompson and Oscar Pistorius making their names before a worldwide audience.

For London 2012, all track and field events will be held at the Olympic Stadium in the new Olympic Park. This state-of-the-art venue, which will have a capacity of 80,000 during the Games, will also host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

Jargon Buster
Cage: The area from which competitors throw a discus or club. The mouth of the cage is 6m wide, and sits 7m in front of the centre of the throwing circle.

Countback: The process used to determine the winner of any field event in which two or more athletes are tied.

Guide runner: Visually impaired runners use a guide runner, usually someone from their own country, to assist them in completing the course of a race safely and as quickly as possible by running alongside them during the race and ‘guiding’ them to stay in their lane.

Lifting: When throwing from a throwing frame, seated athletes sometimes finish in a standing position before releasing the implement. This is called ‘lifting’, and is against the rules if the athlete doesn’t have a foot on the ground.

Points score: In field events that are contested by athletes from different classification groups, a points score will be used to determine the winners.

Courtesy of

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Paralympic Games 2012 - Archery

Where: The Royal Artillery Barracks
When: Thursday 30 Aug – Wednesday 5 Sept 2012
Medal Events: 9
Athletes: 140 (88 men, 52 women)

Although Paralympic Archery was originally developed as a means of rehabilitation and recreation for people with a physical disability, it rapidly evolved into a competitive sport.

At London 2012, athletes will compete in three classes: Standing (ST), Wheelchair 1 (W1) and Wheelchair 2 (W2), with W2 athletes’ impairments having less of an impact on their ability to compete at Archery than a W1 athlete. There are medal events for both the Compound and Recurve bow as well for individuals and teams.

The Basics
The object of the sport is simple: to shoot arrows as close to the centre of a target as possible. Paralympic Archery targets are 122 centimetres in diameter, with the gold ring at the centre (worth a maximum 10 points) measuring just 12.2cm. Archers shoot at the target from a distance of 70 metres.

At the Paralympic Games, the individual competitions will be played in a knockout format. Matches will be played over the best of five sets, with each set consisting of three arrows per archer. The winners of each match will qualify for the next round, until the last two archers go head to head in the gold medal match. A knockout format will also be used for the men’s and women’s team competitions, which features teams of three archers competing against each other in a best-of-24-arrows format.

Paralympic Archery – Past & Present
No sport has as great a Paralympic history as Archery. It featured at the first Stoke Mandeville Games in 1948, the direct precursor to the Paralympic Games, and has featured on every Paralympic programme since the first Games in 1960.
At London 2012, the Paralympic Archery competition will be held at a truly historic venue: The Royal Artillery Barracks. Its rich heritage dates back to 1716, when a Royal Warrant authorised the formation of two artillery companies at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich. The current building was constructed between 1775 and 1802.

Jargon Buster
Boss: The target, usually a square black block made of compacted foam, to which the target face is attached.
Bowman: An archer.
Draw: The act of pulling back the bow string in preparation for shooting.
Nock: A notch at the end of an arrow that rests against the bow string.

Courtesy of

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The History of the Paralympic Games

We all know that the Paralympic Games takes place in conjunction with the Olympic Games but what is the true history of the Games and how have they developed over the years to become the international multi-sport event that they now are?

The first organized athletic event for disabled athletes was really a small gathering of British World War II veterans. On the opening day of 1948 Olympic Games, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann of Stoke Mandeville Hospital hosted a sports competition for the war veteran patients with spinal cord injuries. These first games were called the 1948 International Wheelchair Games. Dr. Guttman's aim was to create an elite sports competition for people with disabilities that would be equivalent to the Olympic Games. The Games were held again at the same location in 1952, and Dutch veterans took part alongside the British, making it the first international competition of its kind. These early competitions were known as the Stoke Mandeville Games and were the starting point of the international Paralympics Games that we see today.

The Paralympics Games has changed somewhat since that time and it was in Rome in 1960 that we first saw Games that were open for all athletes and not just war veterans - 400 athletes from 23 countries competed. However, the Games remained limited to those athletes in wheelchairs. It was not until the Summer Games in 1976 that the Games became open to all disabled athletes and this impacted on the number of participants with 1600 athletes from 40 countries.

In 1988, for the first time, the Summer Paralympic Games were held directly after the Olympic Summer Games and used the same host city, Seoul in South Korea, and the same sporting facilities. These Paralympics Games continued in 1992 and 1996. Finally, in 2001 an agreement between the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was reached that safeguarded all future Paralympics Games.

The development of the Winter Games was slightly slower than that of the Summer Games and it was not until 1976 that we saw the first Winter Paralympic Games in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. The Winter Games were celebrated every four years on the same year as their summer counterpart, just as the Olympics were. This tradition was upheld until the 1992 Games in Albertville, France; after that, beginning with the 1994 Games, the Winter Paralympics and the Winter Olympics have been held in those even numbered years separate from the Summer Games.

As we look forward to the Paralympic Games 2012 we must salute the development of the Games from their humble beginnings to the truly international event that they have now become recognised the world over. The Summer Paralympic Games has increased from 400 athletes in Rome in 1960 to over 3,900 athletes from 146 countries in Beijing in 2008 highlighting the elite disabled athletes from all over the globe.

We have many events to look forward to in next year’s Summer Paralympic Games 2012 and over the next few weeks I will be exploring each in more detail and I look forward to sharing with you the facts and intricate rules that make each event unique.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Paralympic Games

So the ticketing process for the Paralympics Games 2012 is now underway – I have submitted my choices and wait with bated breath to see if (a) I have been successful in securing some and (b) if so, for which events!

It is hoped that by using the same ticketing process as London Olympics 2012, the events will be a sell-out – the first time in their history. Increased television coverage (which in the past has been fairly lacklustre and made the event seem like an also-ran) will also bring the Paralympics Games 2012 to a much wider audience. But what do we truly know about the Paralympics Games? What events are included and more importantly what are the rules?

Over the coming weeks, I will be looking at the history of the Games, the individual events in detail and maybe one or two more unusual facts. After all, did you know that the last time the Paralympics were held in Britain was in 1984? Yes, that’s right the VII Summer Paralympics were held in both Europe and North America. After much wrangling about the event, it was decided that the American National Wheelchair Athletic Association (NWAA), an affiliated organization to the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation (ISMGF), would hold its own Games for wheelchair athletes at a separate venue. As a result, the other three disability groups combined their efforts and chose New York as their Games venue. Amputee and les autres athletes, cerebral palsy athletes and visually impaired athletes competed in New York, USA, while athletes with spinal cord disabilities competed in Stoke Mandeville, right here in England.

The Games in Stoke Mandeville were held from 22 July to 1 August. The British Paraplegic Sports Society (BPSS) organized the Games at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium and more than 1,100 athletes from 41 countries competed in 14 events.

I do hope that as we look forward to next Summer you will join me in my journey to understand the Paralympics Games 2012 more.

Come back soon when I will be looking into the history of the Paralympics Games in more detail.............