Games History

The Games has expanded beyond recognition from the early days of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s and, in all likelihood, surpassed even the wildest aspirations of creator, Ludwig Guttmann, a German neurosurgeon who escaped Jewish persecution in Nazi Germany to find refuge and an unlikely, ultimately visionary, cause in Britain.

"The aims of sport for the disabled, as well as the non-disabled, are to develop mental activity, self-confidence, self-discipline, a competitive spirit and comradeship." Ludwig Guttmann

The Paralympians of London 2012 were recognised as elite disabled sportsmen and women competing in the same city, and venues, as their Olympic counterparts. For their very early predecessors though it was a very different story.

Whether from Britain, or abroad, many of those competing at London 2012 were born long after Guttmann’s death in 1980. And yet the recognition and respect the current generation of Paralympic athletes enjoy owes much to Guttmann's steadfast commitment to restoring confidence and self-belief to those, who through accident or illness, had become disabled.  And he did it, predominantly, through the medium of sport.

Explore the links below to find a brief overview of each addition of the Paralympic Summer Games, a summary of the Paralympic Winter Games, plus a more detailed look at the history behind the growth of the Games.

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