What are Paralympics?
Paralympics also known as Games of Paralympians, are a series of international sporting events for athletes with disabilities that are carried shortly after the completion of the Olympic games.
Similar to the Olympics Games, they are held as Winter & Summer Paralympics.
What does the word Paralympic exactly mean?
The word Paralympic originated from the Greek word, Para which means beside or alongside, and the word Olympic.
It means that the Paralympics are parallel to the Olympics and shows how the two games exist shoulder to shoulder.
The History behind Paralympic Games
The man behind the beginning of the successor event that we today recognize as the Paralympic games were Sir Ludwig Guttman. In the year 1948, he organized a competition in Stock Mandeville (a small village in the United Kingdom) for the veterans of the II World War who suffered spinal injuries.
Due to the successful completion of this event, by the 1960’s it had participants from around the globe and it grew out to be an Olympic-style event.
The very first Paralympic games had 400 participating athletes from 23 countries which were held in Rome, Italy in the year 1960. The athletes competed in eight sports including archery, athletics, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair basketball, dartchery, snooker, swimming, and table tennis.
A petition stating that from 2012 the city chosen to host the Olympics games will be compelled to host the Paralympics games too, was signed between the IOC and the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) in the year 2001.
The athletes who wish to participate in Paralympics must pass certain criteria being decided by IF i.e. International Federations, the body governing the sports.
The tournament offers sports opportunities for athletes with vision, physical and intellectual disabilities. An athlete must fall under one of the 10 categories to be eligible for competing in the Paralympics.
The categories are Involuntary movements, Vision impairment, Intellectual impairment, Impaired muscle power, Impaired passive range of movement, muscle tension, Uncoordinated movement, Limb deficiency, Short stature, and Leg length difference.
Although there are different requirements and classifications for different sports and events.
Alike Olympics there is no maximum or minimum age requirement being set by IPC. Any athlete no matter what age passing the disability criteria is eligible to take part in the tournament.
However, there can be certain age limits for specific events or by the National Paralympic Committees even though there are no such Intercontinental requirements.
Currently, there are 28 Summer and 6 Winter Paralympic games authorized by the IPC.
The newest sport added to the Winter Games is snowboarding and those to the summer games are taekwondo & badminton.
- Alpine skiing
- Cross-country skiing
- Para ice hockey
- Wheelchair curling
- Football 5-a-side
- Shooting para-sport
- Sitting volleyball
- Table Tennis
- Wheelchair basketball
- Wheelchair fencing
- Wheelchair rugby
- Wheelchair tennis
The number of nations participating in this tournament has increased with every Paralympic game.
In the most recent Tokyo Paralympics, 2021 a total of 163 countries' athletes took part in the various events.
India In Paralympics
1968 was the year when India made its Paralympic debut in the Summer Games. India was absent for 2 editions after the 1972 games and finally participated in the year 1984 and since then has participated in every Summer Paralympic games but not a single Winter Games.
Murlikant Petkar was the first Indian para-athlete to win a medal that too, a gold in swimming in the 1972 games. He swam 50 meters in 37.331 seconds and India finished at 25th rank in that year.
Joginder Singh became the first Indian multi-medalist Paralympian in the 1984 games. He won a silver medal in shot put and bronze in javelin & discus throws.
The next shining moment for India came in the 2004 games after a long gap when Devendra Jhajharia begged the gold medal in javelin throw & Rajinder Singh, a bronze in powerlifting in the 56-kg category.
Deepa Malik was the first-ever Indian woman para-athlete to bring a medal home. She won a silver medal in shot put in the 2016 games.
India’s Performance At Tokyo Paralympics, 2020
Tokyo Paralympics, 2020 was the most splendid edition of games for India. 54 athletes represented India in the tournament. We won a total of 19 medals including 5 gold, 8 silver, and 6 bronze. For the first time in the history of the Paralympics, India’s medal haul was in double-digit numbers and we finished on the 24th spot out of the 163 countries. Undoubtedly it will remain the most unforgettable Paralympic game.
1. Bhavinaben Patel
The 34-year-old Bhavina started the journey of medal-winning for India in the Tokyo Paralympics by claiming silver in table tennis.
2. Nishad Kumar
The 21-year-old athlete won a silver for the country in the men’s high jump event.
3. Avani Lekhara
Avani became the first-ever Indian woman to win a gold medal at the Paralympic games. The 19-year-old athlete made a remarkable performance in shooting with a world record of 249.6. She also won a bronze in shooting in another category becoming the first women multi-medalist from India at the Paralympics.
4. Yogesh Kathuniya
The 24-year-old Yogesh won a silver medal in the discus throw.
5. Devendra Jhajharia
The two-time gold winner, Devendra Jhajharia won his third medal at Paralympic (silver) in the javelin throw at the age of 40 making a personal best throw of 64.35 meters.
6. Sumit Antil
The 25-year-old Sumit bagged a gold medal in javelin throw in a different category.
7. Sundar Singh Gurjar
The 25-year-old Sundar finished just behind Jhajharia in this category and bagged a bronze medal in the javelin throw.
8. Manish Narwal
Playing his debut games, the 19-year-old athlete won gold in shooting and now holds the world record in this category.
9. Singhraj Adhana
The 39-year-old athlete won a bronze medal in shooting. He also won a silver medal behind Narwal’s gold.
10. Mariyappan Thangavelu
He cleared the 1.86-meter mark in the men’s high jump to win a silver medal for the country.
11. Sharad Kumar
He completed just after Thangavelu and bagged the bronze medal in the men’s high jump in the same category.
12. Praveen Kumar
He claimed a silver medal in the men’s high jump in a different category.
13. Harvinder Singh
He won the first-ever medal for India in archery at the Paralympics. He bagged a bronze medal for the country.
14. Pramod Bhagat
He won a gold medal in badminton for India in the category of men’s singles.
15. Manoj Sarkar
The 31-year-old athlete bagged the bronze medal in badminton in the men’s singles.
16. Suhas Yathiraj
He won a silver medal for the country in badminton.
17. Krishna Nagar
The 22-year-old Nagar added to the list of India’s medals by claiming a gold medal in badminton.
India so far has won 31 medals in total in Paralympic games. Though each athlete in every tournament has always tried their level best to make India proud.
Slow & steady progress is believed to be better than no progress.
Paris will be hosting the next Summer Paralympic 2024 and India will hopefully perform better than it did in the recent one.
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