Category: Paralympics

Para Sport in 1870 London

By , 17th July 2017 22:58

The London Stadium, perhaps still better known as the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, hosts the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships between 14 and 23 July.

The 2012 Paralympics highlighted the role of Ludwig Guttman and the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in pioneering the use of sport for the rehabilitation of spinal injuries sustained during the Second World War.

This advert appeared in Sporting Life on Wednesday 3 and Saturday 6 August 1870.

 

 

 

The advert provides evidence that disabled veterans from the armed forces were taking part in sport in public nearly 80 years before the wheelchair archery competition organised by Guttman at Stoke Mandeville on 29 July 1948 – the day of the opening ceremony of the 1948 London Olympics – that the IPC regard as having been an important milestone in the history of the Parlympic Movement.

The Greenwich Pensioners were veterans of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, equivalent to the Chelsea Pensioners of the British Army.

Sadly, although the Sporting Life carried adverts for the ‘Grand Gala Days and Cricket Extraordinary’ it didn’t report on the events after the event, and neither did any of the other London publications of the period.

Lillie Bridge was the home of the Amateur Athletic Club and was something of a Victorian multi-sport venue, hosting a variety of sports including athletics, boxing, cricket, cycling, pony racing and rugby.  Conveniently located next to West Brompton station, Lillie Bridge staged the second F.A. Cup final in 1873.

 

2012 mascots celebrate Much Wenlock & Stoke Mandeville

By , 20th May 2010 13:25

So LOCOG has unveiled Wenlock and Mandeville, its (first?) mascots.

Described as having been “created from the last drops of steel left over from the construction of the final support girder for the Olympic Stadium,” the new mascots are the first to have been designed for the new media age.  They will inevitably be available as cuddly toys as well!

Its great to see that they commemorate the significant contributions that two towns – away from London – have made to the development of the Olympic and Paralympic movements.

Much Wenlock, to the south west of Telford in Shropshire, first staged the Wenlock Olympian Games in 1850.  Established by a local doctor, William Penny Brooks, who harboured a vision of reviving the Olympic Games in Greece, the Wenlock Olympian Games predate the “first Olympic Games of the modern era” by nearly half a century.

In 1889, the initiative came to the attention of the young Baron Pierre de Coubertin who shared Penny Brooks’ vision of re-establishing the Olympics as an international celebration of sport.  A visit by the French nobleman to the Shropshire town in 1890 was a significant milestone along the road to the creation of the International Olympic Committee.

The 124th Wenlock Olympian Games were staged between 9 and 12 July 2010.

Stoke Mandeville’s most famous sporting connection also starts with a doctor. In February 1944, Dr.Ludwig Guttmann arrived at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, to set up a new unit to deal with war casualties suffering from spinal cord injuries.

Sir Ludwig believed sport would help his patients make the most of their remaining physical capabilities while providing much-needed exercise. Sport would also help patients rebuild their self-esteem and provide the confidence to contemplate re-entering the world of work.  Initially, games for individuals such as darts, archery, snooker and table ten­nis were offered, but these were quickly supplemented by team sports including wheelchair polo and basketball.

To coincide with the 1948 Olympic Games in London, Sir Ludwig organised the first Stoke Mandeville Games for disabled athletes.  Over the following years, the Stoke Mandeville Games expanded steadily, attracting ever more international competitors and laying the foundations for the Paralympic Games.  If Olympia is the spiritual home of the Olympic Games, Stoke Mandeville can justifiably claim to be the Olympia of the Paralympic Games.

Today, Stoke Mandeville is the UK’s National Centre for Disability Sport offering facilities for a wide variety of land- and water-based sports and regularly hosting competitions.

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