Learn about Paralympics Australia

Learn about Paralympics Australia

It may be a surprise to some that Paralympics Australia’s purpose is much greater than preparing and sending the nation’s top athletes with a disability to the Paralympic Games.

Ensuring our national representatives are ready and raring to compete on the world stage has been at the heart of what we have done since 1990. But PA’s other major priority is helping Australians with a disability – at all levels – gain access to participation in sport.

After all, playing sport is not just about wearing the green and gold. We believe being involved in sport leads to positive social and physical benefits for people with disabilities. It also plays an important role in changing community perceptions of people with disabilities.

To achieve these two major goals, PA has built strong partnerships with governments, business, sporting bodies and communities right across Australia. We run programs, such as the Para-sport Equipment Fund, which provides grants to help address the cost of Para-sport equipment and allow people to discover sports they may have otherwise not known about or been able to join.

Further along the pathway, we work with our National Federation partners to help identify potential Paralympians and assist athletes to prepare for competition by providing funding for coaching, equipment and travel in the lead up to the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games and other major competitions.

Ready, Set, Tokyo!

Australia is one of the world’s leading Paralympic nations. At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Australia placed fifth out of 159 nations on the gold medal tally with 22 gold, 30 silver and 29 bronze medals. It was the fourth consecutive Paralympics at which Australia finished fifth, dating back to Sydney 2000, where we finished on top of the medal tally.

Big things are expected of our Team at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. The Games were postponed last year due to Covid-19 and will now take place between August 24 and September 5 this year. While the postponement of the Games posed an enormous challenge for many of our top Para-athletes, their ability to adapt, re-position their campaigns and get on with the job has been remarkable.

A total of 22 sports are scheduled for inclusion for Tokyo, with Para-badminton and Para-taekwondo making their debut.

You can stay up-to-date and get the latest news by signing up to AUS SQUAD, the official cheer squad of the Australian Paralympic Team: https://aussquad.org.au/.

History

Sport for athletes with an impairment has existed for more than 100 years, but it was only after World War II that it began to be properly organised. Its main purpose in the early days of organised competition was to assist the large number of war veterans and civilians who had been injured during wartime.

In 1944, at the request of the British Government, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann opened a spinal injuries unit at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Great Britain, and in time, rehabilitation sport evolved to recreational sport and then to competitive sport.

On 29 July 1948, the day of the Opening Ceremony of the London 1948 Olympic Games, Dr. Guttmann staged the first competition for wheelchair athletes which he named the Stoke Mandeville Games.

The Stoke Mandeville Games later became the Paralympic Games which first took place in Rome, Italy, in 1960 featuring 400 athletes from 23 countries. Since then the Games have taken place every four years.