After the successful conclusion of Rio Olympics 2016, next in the line is Paralympics 2016 with Rio still being the host city country.
Unknown to others, even those who have disabilities go for sports. It has been widely known to others how sports competition are — there is even Olympic games for that reason. But how well do you know about this multi-sport event that involve athletes with disabilities? Let us walk you through first on what you need to know about Paralympics before we proceed with this year’s Paralympics 2016.
As said, the Paralympic Games is an international multi-sport event in which participants are with various disabilities. Though even before this multi-sports event, athletes with disabilities competes in the Olympic Games. The first athlete with disability who was able to compete was gymnast George Eyser back in 1904 who is a German American with one artificial leg. And aside him, there were also those who have the same path but with different disability.
The range of disability that is put into consideration to the events are people that has the following:
- Impaired muscle power — most well known example of this are parapeglia and quadriplegia;
- Leg length difference
- Impaired passive range of movement
- Limb deficiency — one of the example is amputation;
- Short stature
- Intellectual impairment
- Vision impairment – ranging from partial vision to total blindness.
The same with the Olympic Games, there are also Summer and Winter Paralympic Games. Ever since the start of Summer Paralympic Games back in 1988 at Seoul, South Korea, it has always been in every after Olympic Games. The multi-sport event is under the government of International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
During the 1948 Summer Olympics, the first athletic day for those athletes who have disabilities was held. The games that coincide with the Olympic Games that time were known as the International Wheelchair Games of year 1948. It has been the brain child of Dr. Ludwig Guttman for those veteran patients whom he have seen with spinal cord injuries during the British World War II. It was the precedence of Paralympic Games. The Paralympic athletes desire to have equal opportunities to compete at the Olympic Games. Though some athletes without disability also competes at the Paralympics.
Rio Paralympics 2016
As of writing, 2016 Summer Paralympics is still on going and still in its early week. It is the 25th Summer Paralympic Games. As a tradition, every after Olympics, the Paralympic Games will then follow. Unlike the Olympic Games, the event runs for 11 days from September 7 to 18, 2016. Since it is in the city of Rio, it makes them the first Summer Paralympics to be in the autumntime of the host city. Aside from that, it is also a first time that a South and Latin American city is hosting the event.
As for the venues of the games, it will mostly share the venues back in the recent Olympics. It has 4 cluster venues which includes Barra da Tijuca which will mostly host the venues of majority of the games, Deodoro, Maracaña and as well as Copacabana Beach. The first venue is also the Olympic village. There will be 20 arenas from Rio de Janeiro which will be make use for the sports and as well as the opening and closing ceremonies.
This year’s Summer Paralympic Games introduces two (2) new sports namely the triathlon and canoeing. The main sports for the Games are the following totaling to 23 Paralympic sports:
- Archery – this sport is eligible for wheelchair users and those who are able to use their arms in normal function; wheelchair users with impairment in four limbs can also participate;
- Athletics – those who are under all impairment groups can actually compete in this sport;
- Boccia – also known as bowling game, is open to those who has physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy and others who will compete from a wheelchair;
- Canoeing – participants are those who have physical impairments;
- Cycle Sprint – sport for athletes that has impairment which does not fall under any of the other categories, cerebral palsy or visually impaired athletes, as well as amputees;
- Cycling Road
- Cycling Track
- Equestrian – all athletes who falls into impairment groups can participate in this sport;
- Football 5-a-side – participants have visual impairment;
- Football 7-a-side – participants are with subsequent brain injury or cerebral palsy;
- Goalball – the athletes in this sport are visually impaired; the participants will wear black-out mask to ensure everyone competes equally;
- Judo – exclusive in athletes who have visual impairment;
- Powerlifting – this is open to those who have physical disability;
- Rowing – there are four classes under this sport, dividing the types of impairment of possible athlete players;
- Sailing – athletes with different impairment can compete together;
- Shooting – there are two groups of shooters: standing and wheelchair;
- Sitting Volleyball – participants have physical impairment and most are amputees;
- Swimming – combines the conditions of cerebral palsy, limb loss, spinal cord and other disabilities across classes;
- Table Tennis – participants who have intellectual or physical disability;
- Triathlon – this sport is the newest addition to the games and is cut into five classes for both women and men;
- Wheelchair Sports
There will be 528 events in the 11 days run of the multi-sport event which will yield 265 medals for men, 225 for women and 38 mixed medals.
The establishment of classification system are for athletes. It is put into consideration ever since 1950s to ensure the fairness in the competition between the competitors in Paralympics. Twenty three (23) sports is under different classes making sure that athletes will be under equal conditions under the ten (10) disability categories. The athletes are put into classes according to their level of impairment. The system will differ from one sport to another. It intends to open up sports to as many athletes as possible who are able to participate fairly into competitions.
Medical and functional classification are the systems of Paralympics but not until 1980s. Medical classification is until 1980s while the later is the latest classification being used in the game. It this classification, the focus is on what effect the athlete’s impairment has on his or her athletic performance. In this system, those athletes who have total loss of function in their legs will be able to compete together in most sports. However, there are sports which are exclusive for certain disability types.
In addition, there are sports that counts the participating athletes with just one type of impairment, goalball for instance which is exclusive for athletes that have visual impairment. There are also classes that has competitors with more than one kind of impairment, may it be in combination or not, such as swimming and athletics.
All in all, there are 159 National Paralympic Committees who are participating this year’s Summer Paralympics. It has a total of 4,342 athletes who will participate on the event. China has the highest number of participants having 308 athletes with United States having 279 participants in the next line before Great Britain with 251 participants.
As of writing, currently in the 3rd day of the event, the leading country so far is China. It currently have 7 Gold, 9 Silver and as well as 4 bronze with a total of 20 medals. Great Britain comes in second with 5 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze with 11 medals. For live update of Paralympic 2016, you may visit their official website at Rio2016.
Concerns and Controversies
Even in the past, there are a lot of controversies over the Paralympic Games. There has been concerns regarding cheating incidents. In this year’s game, even before the start of the event, the committee of the Paralympics 2016 is facing major financial issues. Its primary concern is with the lack of sponsor interest and as well as with the sales of the ticket. With this, they are force to cut the volunteer staffing and transport, Deodoro Olympic Park’s partial deconstruction and as well as the re-location of the events. Fortunately, these shortcomings will not be able to affect the upcoming series of sport games.
Aside from that, prior to the commencement of the event, it received a number of vote unanimously by the International Paralympics Committee to ban the Russian athletes in response to the discovery of a state-sponsored doping program. The same with concern in the Olympics 2016, the committee of the event will have refugee athletes under Independent Paralympic Athletes. These athletes will carry the Paralympic flag.