Speed and strength in traditional disciplines
Athletics covers the whole spectrum of sports, from traditional competitions based on speed (from the hundred meter sprint to marathons) to distance throwing events using the usual equipment. Athletics offers variety and is open to people of all ages with a wide range of disabilities.
The entire disabled sport is referred to as athletics. Wheelchair users at athletics meetings or marathons draw attention and admiration. However, non-competitive sport is also important for the health and wellbeing of each individual involved.
Competitions since 1952
In the wake of the Second World War, concerted efforts to redevelop rehabilitation and treatment for war invalids resulted in the emergence of the first sports competitions for people with disabilities. The first wheelchair races took place in Stoke Mandeville (GB) in 1952. Athletics disciplines have been included in the Paralympics since the 1960 event in Rome. Sports people regularly take part in national, European or world championships, divided into classifications based on disability. International competitions are always the highlight of the season.
Today's racing wheelchairs are custom-made machines, operated by applying powerful strokes to two large rear wheels. To improve power transmission, racers wear special gloves. A small front wheel with steering controls and brakes adds the finishing touches to the vehicle. Particular development work has been carried out to produce customized throwing chairs for shot-putting, javelin and discus throwing.
Author: Dominik Feusi
Photo: Elvar Pálsson / flickr.com