May 23, 2020
I’m pretty sure we’re all familiar with the Olympics on a certain level. Even if that is by being glued to the tv for every sport or enjoying the evening news summary about it, we’ve all heard about it. But what about the Paralympics? Doesn’t immediately ring a bell, huh?
For those of you where the Paralympics didn’t ring a bell, here’s a short explanation.
The Paralympics is the world’s second biggest sporting event, coming right after the Olympics. Thousands of athletes with disabilities are competing in a large number of events to win medals, break records, and have a lot of fun. Yes, it’s basically the Olympics for people with disabilities. But it has its own name, and that name should be just as big as the Olympics.
The first Paralympics were held in 1960 in Rome. But it wasn’t until 1988 that the Paralympics were also held in the same city as the Olympics. Before that time, the Paralympics would be held some place else, and not right after the Olympics. So you could say that in 1988, the Paralympics were starting to make a better name for themselves.
Dutch snowboarder Bibian Mentel is just a hero by herself. She’s been fighting cancer since 1999 and even during the 2018 winter Paralympics. She had just had an operation a couple months before, but went to compete anyway. She won gold on both events she competed during that time. To me, she’s a true hero.
Italian athlete Beatrice (Bebe) Vio may only be 23 years old, but she already has two records on her name. First, she is the only wheelchair fencer in the world to compete with no arms and no legs. If that isn’t already amazing, she also became a Paralympic champion in 2016. This beautiful lady is gonna go far, so watch out for her.
Speaking of records, Swiss wheelchair racer Marcel Hug is quite the king of records. In 2010 he competed in an athletic championship and broke four world records in four days. At least one record a day! If that isn’t impressive then I don’t know what is.
In 2008, South african swimmer Natalie Du Toit did something very special. She became the second person ever to compete in both the Olympics and the Paralympics, and she did that in one year. To make it even more special, she also got to carry her country’s flag on the opening ceremony of both events, making her the first person ever to do that.
Dutch tennis player Esther Vergeer is not only a very good athlete. She became “Chef on the Mission” – which is like a team coach – for the Dutch paralympic team after she retired from playing professional tennis.
Trischa Zorn, an American swimmer, has the most Paralympic medals on her name. Between 1980 and 2004 she won 55 medals, of which 41 gold, which also makes her the paralympic athlete with the most gold paralympic medals.
Of course this is just a short list of some amazing athletes making a name for themselves and the Paralympics, but there are so many more Paralympic athletes who deserve just as much love, attention and cheers as the Olympic athletes. I hope this article can be a little opening into the recognition for the Paralympics, and above all, the amazing athletes who deserve so much.
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