Paralympic Games

In 1948, Sir Ludwig Guttmann organised a sports competition involving World War II veterans with a spinal cord injury in Stoke Mandeville, England. Four years later, competitors from the Netherlands joined the games and an international movement was born. Paralympic beginnings Olympic style games for athletes with a disability were organised for the first time in Rome in 1960, now called Paralympics. Ireland was one of thirteen countries to participate in the first Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960.  Five paraplegic athletes competed in Rome and returned to set up the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA). New York/Stoke Mandeville 1984 The IWA sent Irish Teams to Paralympic Games from 1964 to 1984. At the 1984 Paralympic Games held in New York and Stoke Mandeville, Irish athletes with cerebral palsy and vision impairment competed for the first time. Seoul 1988 The Paralympic Council of Ireland was set up in 1987 to help coordinate and send the Irish team to Seoul1988. It was formally recognised as the National Paralympic Committee for Ireland upon the founding of the International Paralympic Committee. Sydney 2000 Sydney 2000 marked a watershed moment for Irish Paralympic sport as the Irish Sports Council funded the Irish team’s preparation and participation at the Games. On completion, the Paralympic Council ofIreland’s remit changed from “coordination” to “performance”. Athens 2004 On the back of increased performance planning, the Irish team enjoyed a reasonably successful haul at the Games with three silver medals and a bronze. The “ParaPerform 08” plan was correspondingly put in place to ensure success at Beijing 2008, requiring a significant increase in sports science and medical support. Beijing 2008 Ireland’s largest ever team of 45 athletes were successful, returning with three gold medals, one silver and a bronze. The increased depth of Irish talent was shown by 22 finalists and 24 personal-best performances. Greater global competition (3,951 athletes from 146 countries appeared in Beijing), highlighted the challenge of reaching the podium at Paralympic Games.

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