The Paralympic games follow up the Olympic games for people with a wide range of disabilities, including impaired muscle power or muscle movement, limb deficiency, leg length difference, short stature, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis, vision or intellectual impairment disabilities. There are winter and summer Paralympics, and they happen every four years just like the Olympics. Summer Paralympics include archery, athletics, boccia, cycling, equestrian, football 5-a-Side, football 7-a-Side, goalball, judo, paracanoe, paratriathlon, powerlifting, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, volleyball, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis. The winter Paralympics include alpine skiing, para-snowboarding, ice sledge hockey, biathlon, cross-country skiing and wheelchair curling. The Paralympics are further broken down into several categories within the individual sports in order to make it fair for competitors physically, visually and mentally.
Unfortunately, the Paralympics don’t get the recognition or value they deserve. While the Rio Olympics’ opening ceremony attracted more than 30 million viewers, the Rio Paralympics peaked at just over two million viewers. Moreover, the Paralympic athletes don’t get as much funding as the Olympic athletes. United States Olympic Committee (USOC) provides less funding in Paralympic athletic endorsements. The Paralympic athletes also earn less in financial awards for medals and earn fewer stipends throughout their careers. Overall, less media exposure and national recognition is granted to these athletes.
Now here is why these athletes need to be recognized and celebrated more widely. Not only are these people highly skilled in their fields, but they also defeated their disabilities. They display great determination and courage to overcome mental and physical obstacles. They are truly inspirational because they prove that few things are impossible. The Paralympics also raise awareness of mental and physical disabilities in the hope of creating a better life for those with disabilities. It therefore serves to change public perception of disabilities in order to provide the Paralympics with better facilities that would drastically improve their quality of life.
“The UK would never think of sport the same way and we will never think of disability the same way. The Paralympians have lifted the cloud of limitation,” Lord Coe, the organizing committee chairman of the Paralympics, said.
In the 2016 Rio Paralympics, China won 239 medals total, while Great Britain, Ukraine, US, Australia earned 147, 117, 115 and 81 respectively. Most of these countries had more Paralympic medals than Olympic ones. We need to recognize these champions and applaud them as much as we recognize and applaud our Olympians.