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London 2012 Paralympic Games

Sport for athletes with a disability has existed for more than 100 years but it was not until after the Second World War that the games were widely introduced.

In 1944 a noted German neurologist Dr Guttman opened a spinal injuries centre at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in the UK, transforming the care of servicemen injured in the line of duty forever. He actively encouraged patients to get involved in wheelchair polo and basketball to aid their recovery of the mind as well as the rest of the body.

On the first day of theLondon1948 Olympics, Dr Guttmann held the first ever Archery competition for wheelchair athletes which started the Stoke Mandeville Games. From there on in, the Stoke Mandeville Games have held annually and in 1952, competitors from the Netherlands joined in creating the International Stoke Mandeville games.

In 1960, the first every Paralympics were held in Rome giving them the high profile that they hold today, becoming the second biggest sporting event on earth with 400 athletes from 23 countries.

1976 saw the birth of the first Winter Paralympics and this event continues to this day.

Since the 1988 games in Seoul, the games have been held in the same place as the Olympics.

In London 2012 there will be 4,280 athletes competing for the 503 gold medals to be awarded.

However you feel about the sport, to these competitors, it is a massive feat of mental and physical prowess to overcome some pretty terrible injuries and birth defects. Show your support for them by taking in as much of this wonderful event as possible over the next couple of weeks.

The opening ceremony for the Paralympic Games may not be on the same scale as the Olympics, but you are still going to see some pretty amazing sportsmen and women and a few fireworks. Featuring 3000 volunteers, 50 of who are disabled performers who have learned circus skills from scratch. The show is called ‘Enlightenment’ which is more thought-provoking, focussing on achievement against the odds and forward-thinking individuals who have impacted on the World due to their scientific vision and advances.

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