20 fascinating facts about the Paralympics

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1 20 fascnatng facts about the Paralympcs By James Moore Fled under: Holdays, Stayng n After the drama of the Olympcs come the equally mpressve Paralympcs. Ths year s set to be the bggest ever staged. But how much do you know about ths amazng sportng spectacle whch begns on August 29, runnng for 11 days? PA Torchbearer Ade Adeptan on the Mllennum Brdge Here, from the amazng athletes nvolved to where t all began, we've got the nsde track...

2 1. Untl the Paralympcs came along athletes wth dsabltes dd sometmes compete n the Olympcs. In fact, n 1904, Amercan gymnast George Eyser won three gold medals n just one day, wth an artfcal leg. South Afrcan runner Oscar Pstorus, a double amputee and former gold medal Paralympan, wll compete n the Olympcs ths summer too. 2. The frst attempt to organse a specfc contest for those wth dsabltes came n It was organsed by Dr Ludwg Guttman, a neurologst at Stoke Mandevlle Hosptal n Bucknghamshre, for Brtsh World War II patents who had suffered spnal cord njures. Sxteen veterans took part n an archery competton. 3. The mascot for the 2012 Paralympcs, Mandevlle, recalls ths hertage. PA Mascots Wenlock and Mandevlle (left)

3 4. The Games got an nternatonal dmenson n 1952 when the Dutch joned. The tournament contnued to grow and n 1960 what s now consdered the frst Paralympc Games was held n Rome, Italy, wth 400 athletes from 23 countres takng part n eght sports. 5. From then on the Paralympc Games were held every four years and athletes wth dfferent dsabltes were allowed to partcpate from the 1976 Games held n Toronto, Canada. 6. At the Seoul games n 1988 the Paralympcs were held n the same cty and venues as the Summer Olympcs for the frst tme. 7. Athletes from 165 countres are set to compete at ths year's Summer Paralympcs n London, 19 more than at Bejng n Some 4200 athletes wll take part n 20 sports at 20 venues n 503 medal events wth over two mllon tckets for spectators. 9. Brtan's most successful Paralympans nclude Tann- Grey Thompson, who took part n wheelchar racng n the 100metre, 400 metre, and 800 metre events as well as basketball. She notched up 16 medals, 11 of them gold between 1988 and Brt swmmer Davd Roberts also has 11 golds.

4 11.Amercan swmmer Trscha Zorn tops the all tme Paralympcs medals table wth 55 medals, 41 of them gold. 12.The 2008 Paralympcs saw 279 world records broken. Expect more to tumble. 13. In 2008 Team GB came second to Chna n the medal table wth an ncredble 102 medals 42 of them gold. 14. Just as there was an Olympc Torch Relay there s a Paralympc Torch Relay as well as celebratory Flame Festvals around the country. There wll be a 24 hour Torch Relay from Stoke Mandevlle to the openng ceremony at the Olympc Stadum. 15. Team GB stars to watch out for ths year nclude top wheelchar racer Davd Wer and swmmer and cyclst Sarah Storey. She already has fve gold medals and wll be gong for more gongs on her bke. 16. Brtsh swmmer Eleanor Smmonds became our youngest ever ndvdual gold medallst aged just 13 at the 2008 Bejng Paralympcs wnnng top spot n the 100m and 400m freestyle.

5 PA Eleanor Smmonds wth her two gold medals at the homecomng parade n Joanne Round was Brtan's youngest ever Paralympc gold medal wnner takng two swmmng relay golds n Seoul n 1998 aged just 12 years old. 18. The Paralympc symbol s made up of three "agtos", coloured red, blue, and green, beng the colours most wdely ncluded n natonal flags. The 'para' n the ttle s because the Games run parallel to the Olympc Games. 19. Among the sports are athletcs, wheelchar basketball, sttng volleyball and bocca, a sport a bt lke the French boules. 20. Paralympc Events wll take place at the Olympc Park as well as n a Rver Zone whch ncludes ExCel, Greenwch Park, the Royal Artllery Barracks and North Greenwch

6 Arenas. There wll also be salng at Weymouth, road cyclng n central London and rowng at Eton Dorney. Eton Manor, wthn the Park wll host Paralympc tenns.

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