Staffordshire AMATEUR SWIMMING ASSOCIATION © Staffordshire County ASA 2017

The first Games for Athletes with disabilities were held in Stoke Mandeville in 1948 where veterans from the war who sustained spinal cord injuries competed. Later in 1952 athletes from Holland joined in and so the International Movement began.

The instigator of the Games at Stoke Mandeville was Sir Ludwig Guttman. In 1948 Dr Guttman organised a sporting competition for British World War two veterans who sustained spinal cord injuries, it was called the 1948 Wheelchair Games. Dr Guttman’s aim was to create a sporting competition for people with disabilities that would be equal to the Olympic Games.

The first Paralympic Games officially organised by the IPC (The International Paralympic Committee) was staged in Rome 1960 when 400 athletes from 23 Countries competed. The initial rules stipulated that only athletes in wheelchairs could compete.

The 1976 Games were open to athletes with other disabilities, with this new inclusion in the Games expansion was 1,600 athletes from 40 Countries. The 1988 Olympic Games were staged in Seoul, South Korea, the Paralympic Games were staged directly afterwards using all of the facilities including the Olympic Village as was the staging of the 1992 and 1996 Paralympic Games. The formalising of the agreement with the IPC and the IOC (International Olympic Committee) took place in 2001 that the Paralympic Games would follow the Summer Olympics utilising all of the facilities.

The founding of the IPC was in 1989 and is the World Governing Body of the Paralympic Movement, its membership includes 165 National Paralympic Committees and four disability specific International Sports Federations, the headquarters is in the City of Bonn (Germany). The IPC is responsible for the organising of the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games, it is also the International Federation for nine sports this requires the IPC to supervise and co-ordinate the World Championships and other official competitions for those nine sports, the IPC are also members of the IOC.

The name Paralympic refers to a competition held in parallel with the Olympic Games. The 1988 Games staged in Seoul was the first occasion when the title Paralympic became official. The motto for the Paralympic Movement is “Spirit in Motion”.

There are twenty Paralympic Sports in the 2012 Summer Games and five in the Winter Games. The IPC has governance over several of the Sports but not all. There are other International organisations known as International Sports Federations. The Paralympic Games athletes are subject to the drug testing regulations the same as all other athletes.

The Beijing Games involved 4,000 competitors, (1,800 wheelchair users), 2,200 team officials and 800 Games officials. The Paralympic Games is here to stay and we hope will continue to be part of the Olympic Games and its future.

Wolverhampton’s contribution to the Paralympic Games is considerable. Marcus Asbury , one of our Development Officers, competed in Barcelona 1992 and is a true Olympian. Alan Carron has developed wheelchair basketball and rugby and with the formation of the Rhinos Club has created a Centre of Excellence which itself has become International. Tony Ward who is a World authority on Paralympic Swimming Refereed the Swimming Programme in Beijing and will in 2012 have the appointment in London.

Helen Bourton a Specialist Teacher in Westcroft Sports College
 has been the driving force behind the initiative SMILE.
This is the opportunity for children with disabilities to take part in
sport and to develop their own pathways, it is also the very
foundation in which to develop Coach Education.

July, 2011.

Peter W. Holmes MBE

Chairman Sports Advisory Council - Wolverhampton
Life Member & Past President - Staffordshire County ASA