March 1, 2022
WRITTEN BY:
Melinda Head

Beijing Paralympics

Equally important as the Olympics. A must-watch

The Beijing Winter Paralympics will be held from March 4-13.

Paralympic competitors are grouped into 10 major categories, based on type of disability:

  • Physical impairment: impaired muscle power, impaired passive range of movement, loss of limb or limb deficiency, leg-length difference, short stature, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis
  • Visual impairment: ranging from partial vision, sufficient to be judged legally-blind, to total blindness
  • Intellectual disability: impairment in intellectual functioning and associated limitations in adaptive behavior

A total of 78 events in 5 sports will be held in Beijing, including:

  • Alpine skiing
  • Nordic skiing (biathlon and cross-country skiing)
  • Para ice/sled hockey
  • Snowboarding
  • Wheelchair curling

This year, 51 nations will send qualified athletes to the Paralympic Games, including 3 newcomers:  Azerbaijan, Israel and Puerto Rico. Liechtenstein, Estonia and Latvia will return after absences.

I love Team USA’s slogan:  “Show the World. Let’s make the Paralympics impossible to miss”. Here’s the TV/streaming schedule.

The first Paralympic Games were held in Rome in 1960, and featured 400 athletes from 23 countries. Winter Paralympic Games were added in 16 years later. Since 1992, Paralympics have taken place in the same cities and venues as the Olympics, though not at the same time (which I think is very regrettable).

We must never forget that all these efforts are due to the determination of Dr. Ludwig Guttmann, a pioneer in rehabilitation sports who worked tirelessly to restore fitness and self-esteem, while providing much-needed social interaction, to seriously injured WWII servicemen and women. Poppa Guttman, as he was affectionately called, was a relentless visionary who paved the way for a group of disabled patient-athletes from the Stoke Mandeville Hospital to demonstrate their extraordinary archery skills at the 1948 London Summer Olympics. The rest is history.

Motion Picture"Best of Men"

Imagine doing what you currently can’t ever dream of doing as an able-bodied person, but with a life-altering disability. Being an Olympian is hard enough, have you ever thought how hard it would be for a Paralympian?

This year, 67 Americans will compete for glory at the Paralympic Games in Beijing, including 39 returning Paralympians and 22 who have previously won gold medals.

Here are some interesting facts about Team USA:

  • A majority of athletes will be male (52 out of 67) – hey, International Paralympic Committee (IPC), let’s work even harder to fix this gender imbalance
  • 27 states will be represented, with Colorado leading the pack (10 athletes) – let us challenge all states to bring athletes to the next Winter Paralympic games
  • 12 athletes served in the U.S. Armed forces – 6 in the Marine Corps, 4 in the Army and 2 in the Navy. Thank you for your service
  • Jesse Keefe (alpine skiing) is the youngest Team USA athlete at age 17, while Pam Wilson is the oldest at age 66 (wheelchair curling)

Jesse Keefe is a 17 year old alpine skier from Sun Valley, Idaho, with a congenital limb deficiency

Pam Wilson is the victim of a car accident that left her partially paralyzed. Not only is she a Paralympian, Pam is also an MD (earned after her accident)

  • Oksana Masters from Louisville, Kentucky, is the most decorated American Summer and Winter Paralympian, with 10 medals across 3 sports (Nordic skiing, cycling, rowing)

Abandoned by her Ukrainian parents at birth, Oksana Masters was born with several radiation-induced birth defects, which eventually resulted in her legs having to be amputated, in addition to surgically creating thumbs from fingers. This multi-sport adopted American Paralympian is unstoppable

  • Laurie Stephens from Wenham, Massachusetts, follows in Oksana’s footsteps, with 7 medals earned uniquely in alpine skiing

Laurie Stephens is an alpine mono-skier who has spina bifida, a congenital defect of the spine. Her events include Downhill, Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super Combined and Super-G. Mono-skiers sit in a molded shell mounted above a single ski and use two hand-held outriggers for balancing and turning

  • Since the last Winter Paralympic Games, Josh Sweeney from Glendale, Arizona, has transitioned from sled hockey to Nordic skiing

Josh Sweeney became a bilateral amputee after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) while serving in Afghanistan

  • Love is in the air among Team USA, with Alpine skier Danelle Umstead from Park City, Utah, accompanied by her husband, Rob, who serves as her sighted guide

Danelle Umstead suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, a rare, inherited degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment. She communicates with her sighted husband via microphone as she navigates her way down the ski slope

For those of you who want to dig deeper, Team USA has a great microsite devoted to the Paralympics.

It’s hard to believe that Team USA receives no funding from the American government. You can make a donation here.

Now take what you’ve learned and play today’s Paralympics Trivia Quiz of the Day:

1. Download Quizefy app.

2. 250 free gems will be instantly deposited in your name

3. Start playing immediately for free

4. Have fun and Strut Your Smart!

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Tuesday, June 28th: The Race to Cycling Equality
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About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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