The importance of the Paralympics


Katy Clark

The Paralympics highlight people’s skill in sports, despite their disability.

Katy Clark, AVT Editor

Last week on March 13th, the Paralympics held their closing ceremony in Beijing China, bringing an end to the latest Paralympic events. The Paralympics, held after the Olympics, occur every two years and alternate between Summer events and Winter events. The Paralympics offer a chance for people in the disabled community to compete for medals and represent their country, and are modified to accommodate for their special needs.

“It is really essential for communities to be represented that are not represented otherwise. We have been seeing more often through social media more disabled creators coming out but it is very hard to get representation for people in sports, for people in high school, so being able to see a goal they can reach at some point is probably really inspiring for people,” said member of FCSN(Friends of Children With Special Needs) Vaishali Sukumar (‘23).

Inspired by the ideas of Sir Ludwig Guttman, the Paralympics made its debut in Rome, Italy after the 1960 Rome Olympic Games. He was inspired to start the games after serving as a neurosurgeon in World War 2, where he saw patients with spinal cord injuries, and wanted to give them the chance to compete in athletic competitions again.

Oksana Masters has an instagram account where she posts about her Paralympic experience. It has a steady following base and encouraging comments are under each of her posts.

“Just because people have disabilities it doesn’t mean that they can not play sports. It just sends a message that it doesn’t matter who you are, you still have opportunities and you are still represented,” said Sukumar.

There are six sports currently being played in the Winter Paralympics. These sports include Para Alpine Skiing, Ice Hockey, Nordic Skiing, Snowboard, and Curling. Athletes are grouped together to compete based on their disabilities, which include cerebral palsy, amputees, and intellectual disability. 

“I have always enjoyed watching curling. It is just an interesting sport because I feel like not many people play it so I think in that way I would really love to see the curling side of the Paralympics, but all of these sports really, they just seem like so insane in general and like being able to see people in wheelchairs, amputees play these sports and experience these things is really nice to see,” said Sukumar.

One of these heroic athletes is Oksana Masters, a woman who brought home seven medals from the Beijing Paralympics. Born in Ukraine, she suffered damage to both her legs due to radiation poisoning and she had both of her legs amputated. That did not stop her however, and she became interested in cross country skiing. She has also competed in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

“I really appreciate the message that the Paralympics sends: it reminds people that although these athletes have disabilities, they are just as capable and can be successful in playing a competitive recreational sport,” said FCSN member Maddy Zhang (‘24).

Over the course of 62 years the Paralympics have grown immensely in popularity. As more information about the disabled community is being shared, more awareness and attention is being brought to their strengths and the power of what they can do.The Paralympics will be back in the summertime of 2024 in Paris, France.