The 2012 Paralympics (derived from the Greek word “Para” meaning beside or alongside) officially opened on Thursday night. The 2012 games marks the first time that the Paralympics in its entirety has been held in the UK despite the fact it’s the country of their birth. (http://www.rte.ie/news/2012/0829/london-paralympics-2012.html) The ceremony on Channel 4 gave the station its most viewed show in over a decade; with an average viewing figure of 7.6m people and peaking at 11.2m (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2195718/London-Paralympics-Channel-4-viewing-figures-adverts.html).
Founder of the Paralympics Sir Ludwig Guttmann was a Jewish neurosurgeon who fled Nazi Germany in the late 1930′s. In 1944 he began working with war veterans who suffered spinal injuries in the Stoke Mandeville Hospital. He believed that by taking part in sports it would help motivate them after serious injury; before Guttmann spinal injuries were considered a death sentence; people were discouraged from moving and often sedated; leading to secondary infections and bedsores which resulted in many deaths. He believed competition would encourage them and motivate them to see that there was life after their injuries. He began with wheelchair hockey but when he realised that was too violent he tried wheelchair basketball. (http://thescore.thejournal.ie/ludwig-guttmann-paralympics-575859-Aug2012/)
In 1948 when London hosted the Olympic Games, Guttmann decided to host his own version and organised the first wheelchair games at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire. It was a small affair consisting of just 16 competitors but it was to become Guttmann’s legacy. Four years later international competitors started taking part and by 1984 more than 1,000 competitors from 41 countries were taking part in 14 different sport events. Over the years Stoke Mandeville games gained the official title of the Paralympics and coincided with the Olympic Games. (http://getset.london2012.com/en/the-games/about-the-olympic-and-paralympic-games/about-the-paralympic-games) Guttmann’s daughter has been quoted saying ” Her father dreamed of an Olympic Games for disabled men and women…..who but he could have imagined that it would have happened” From this small start the games have grown with more than 4,000 athletes from around the world competing this year and the 2012 games are the most successful with 2.3 million tickets sold; the largest amount ever. (http://thescore.thejournal.ie/ludwig-guttmann-paralympics-575859-Aug2012/)
From everyone here at CCM Recruitment we wish all the athletes especially TEAM IRELAND, a happy and hopefully successful Paralympic Games. Go n-éirí an t-ádh leat!