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   Life is too short > Sports > Paralympics Games. S
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Paralympics Games. Special Sports for Very Special People

Paralympics games follow the Olympic Games by twelve days. After the 2010 Vancouver Olympics athletes are finished doing what they do best, Paralympics from all over the globe will converge on Vancouver and Whistler British Columbia to compete.

So just what are the games about?

What qualifies as a disability?

What sports may we expect?

Where will each sport venue be located?

Now take a look at these titles one by one to enable us to be better informed.

So just what are the games about?

The second world war had a profound effect on people of the world who lived through that terrible conflict. Millions of brave soldiers, sailors and airmen lost their lives in the quest to win freedom for the rest of us.

For every death, many more were wounded and a great number were disabled for life. Thousands were in wheelchairs. Countless numbers of these brave souls had lost limbs.

Sir Ludwig Guttmann was born in Poland in 1899. By 1939 he was a leading neurologist working at a Jewish hospital in the beautiful city of Breslau on the Oder River. He was forced to flee to England when the Germans invaded Poland.

He strongly believed that sport was a wonderful therapy for building physical strength and the well being of those who were severely injured. The British government founded the National Spinal Injuries Center in a city near London and asked him to be the director of the center.

He organized different games the disabled could play. Each year a few more athletes would enter the games by 1953 approximately 145 were entered.

The Olympics directors were beginning to take notice of these games and beginning in Rome in 1960 the Paralympics Games were held after the Olympic Games and it has been that way ever since. Guttmann was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and the Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for his outstanding leadership. The Paralympics Winter Games were first held in Sweden in 1976 and have been a regular feature of the Olympic games format since the 1992 games in Albertville.

What qualifies as a disability?

There are six basic groups within the Paralympics qualification movement. Those are spinal cord injuries, visual impairment, amputee, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability and another group with disabilities that are outside the box and do not fit into any other category.

Each sport has its own classification rules. Athletes are governed by officials know as classifiers who will observe the athletes both in and out of their sport. If an athlete improves, he/she may be reclassified up or down. The system continues to evolve and is always open to review.

What sports may we expect?

There are four sports competitions for the 2010 Vancouver winter Paralympics.

Alpine Skiing.

With the invention of the Mono Ski the sport has gained popularity very quickly. Now disabled skiers who cannot stand are able to sit and with the special short crutches with skis attached they are able to steer and keep their balance.

Cross Country

With the Paralympics Games held at Ornskoldsvik Sweden in 1976 the sport of cross-country skiing got its start. At first only the classic form was permitted. Now some 30 years later many changes have taken place opening the door to a great number of skiers with a variety of disabilities. Wheelchair Curling



The sport had its beginning at the Paralympics Winter Games in Torino Italy. Played very similar to regular curling except the athletes sit in wheelchairs, either propel the stones with only arm action or use a pusher called a cue, down the ice to the concentric rings. The task of pushing the stone is more demanding than regular curling because the athletes must play while the chair is stationary.

Ice Sledge Hockey

The exciting sport of Ice Sledge Hockey had its introduction at the 1994 Paralympics Games in the beautiful town of Lillehammer, Norway. The sledge is usually made of aluminium with two steel blades. The players carry two double-ended sticks. These have a pick on one end and a curved blade, which they use to shoot the puck. The pick allows the player to gain traction to propel their sledge along the ice.

Biathlon Skiing and Shooting

The main difference between Olympic Biathlon and Paralympics Biathlon is the shooting position. It's always from the prone position in the latter sport. The categories are the same as in Cross Country Skiing. The equipment for those skiers who have no use of their legs use an apparatus called a Sit-ski. This is a very demanding sport.

The 2010 Vancouver Paralympics Games promise to provide thrills to all of those who chose to attend. Will you be one of the lucky ones who do?

About the author: Joe and Irma Mac Millan have enjoyed the Whistler Mountain and valley area of British Columbia for many years. They have camped, hiked and skied the mountains and fished and kayaked the rivers and lakes. Their website One couples guide to the exciting Whistler-outdoors is a must for anyone considering a trip to Whistler as well as the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. They invite one and all to take a look.
 
Joe and Irma Mac Millan
 
 
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