The Paralympic Games is a major international multi-sport event involving athletes with a range of physical and intellectual disabilities, including mobility disabilities, amputations, blindness, and cerebral palsy. The first Winter Paralympics were held in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden in 1976. The Winter Games were celebrated every four years on the same year as their summer counterpart, just as the Olympics were until the 1992 Games in Albertville, France. After that, beginning with the 1994 Games in Lillehammer, Norway, the Winter Paralympics were held following the Winter Olympics using the same infrastructure.
The Paralympic Games were designed to emphasize the participants’ athletic achievements and ability, not their disability. The Paralympics have grown from a small gathering of British, US and Canadian World War II veterans to become one of the largest international sporting events by the early 21st century. Paralympians strive for equal treatment with non-disabled Olympic athletes, but there is a large funding gap between Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
While the Olympic Games have experienced tremendous growth in global media coverage since the early 80’s, the Paralympics have been unable to maintain a consistent international media presence. Television broadcasts of Paralympic Games began in 1976, but this early coverage was confined to taped-delay releases. In the 1992 Winter Paralympics there were few hours of live coverage available but most broadcast were limited to highlights during the Games. No meaningful improvements in coverage occurred until recently. In Norway, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) broadcast 30 hours of the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games live and there will be an additional increase of coverage during the Sochi Paralympics…
The IPC (International Paralympic Committee) has established ten disability categories. Athletes are divided within each category according to their level of impairment, in a functional classification system which differs from sport to sport.
Impaired muscle power: With impairments in this category, the force generated by muscles, such as the muscles of one limb, one side of the body or the lower half of the body is reduced.
Impaired passive range of movement: Range of movement in one or more joints is reduced in a systematic way.
Loss of limb or limb deficiency: A total or partial absence of bones or joints from partial or total loss due to illness, trauma, or congenital limb deficiency.
Leg-length difference: Significant bone shortening occurs in one leg due to congenital deficiency or trauma.
Short stature: Standing height is reduced due to shortened legs, arms and trunk, which are due to a musculoskeletal deficit of bone or cartilage structures.
Hypertonia: Hypertonia is marked by an abnormal increase in muscle tension and reduced ability of a muscle to stretch.
Ataxia: Ataxia is an impairment that consists of a lack of coordination of muscle movements.
Athetosis: Athetosis is generally characterized by unbalanced, involuntary movements and a difficulty maintaining a symmetrical posture.
Visual Impairment: Athletes with visual impairment ranging from partial vision, sufficient to be judged legally blind, to total blindness.
Intellectual Disability: Athletes with a significant impairment in intellectual functioning and associated limitations in adaptive behaviour. The IPC primarily serves athletes with physical disabilities, but the disability group Intellectual Disability has been added to some Paralympic Games. This includes only elite athletes with intellectual disabilities diagnosed before the age of 18. However, the IOC-recognized Special Olympics World Games are open to all people with intellectual disabilities.
Bornskier is proud to bring you daily reports and results live from the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia starting tonight with the opening ceremony.