With everyone’s eyes glued on the Olympic Games, I fear we may be overlooking an equally important upcoming event: the 2012 Paralymipcs, kicking off August 29 in London.
I’ve personally never been one to watch every single Olympic event as there’s so many going on at once and it’s difficult to keep up while juggling a busy summer schedule. But after watching this incredibly inspiring video on the upcoming Paralympics, I think I may need to carve out some dedicated time for watching these events.
The history of the Paralympics, which is a competition designed for athletes with impairments, is compelling. The movement started more than 60 years ago at the 1948 Olympic Games when the first competition for wheelchair athletes involving 16 injured servicemen and women took part in an archery event. This initial event evolved into the first Paralympic Games, which were held in Rome, Italy in 1960, and included 400 athletes from 23 countries.
Since then, the games have taken place every four years following the kick-off of the main Olympic Games, both in winter and summer. In 1989, the International Paralympic Committee was founded in Dusseldorf, Germany, as an international non-profit organization that would carry the spirit of the Paralympic Movement forward.
The term Paralympic is derived from the Greek term “para,” meaning beside or alongside, and the word “Olympic,” according to Paralympic.org. “Its meaning is that Paralympics are the parallel Games to the Olympics and illustrates how the two movements exist side-by-side.”
The Paralympic Games are about equality. They’re about turning disabilities into abilities and demonstrating high-quality performance. They’re about displaying we are all people of one world. Athletes with disabilities overcome challenges every day, and as a result, it provides inspiration and motivation for all who watch them perform, disabled or not.
Be sure to watch the opening ceremonies on August 29, and follow the various events, including archery, swimming, powerlifting, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball, through the event’s end on September 9. Consider me inspired.