The 2018 Winter Olympics may be over, but there’s more impressive athleticism to look forward to. Now, when do the 2018 Paralympics start? The 2018 PyeongChang Paralympics begin on Friday, March 9th. And if you think the Olympians at the Winter Games were amazing, prepare to have your socks knocked off.
This year, the U.S. Paralympic team consists of 74 athletes competing in six different disciplines: Alpine Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing, Ice Hockey, Biathlon, Snowboarding, and Wheelchair Curling.
During the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Games, the U.S. finished third with 18 medals behind Ukraine, which ended up with 25 medals, and Russia, which had 80 medals.
As with the 2018 Winter Games, Russia is banned from the upcoming 2018 Paralympics due to its previous doping scandal. However, the International Olympic Committee approved 30 Russian athletes to compete as neutrals.
The Paralympic Games unofficially started on July 28th, 1948. The first Olympic Games post-World War II had just opened that same day and to celebrate, disabled and injured war vets at the Stoke-Mandeville Hospital held their own competition — The Stoke-Mandeville Games for the Paralyzed. Fourteen men and two women competed in archery on the grounds of the hospital.
Dr. Ludwig Guttmann, head of Stoke-Mandeville’s Spinal Injuries Unit, thought the games would be beneficial to his patients with spinal injuries. He had been experimenting with movement therapy rather than the standard bed rest treatment. The positive results led him to treat patients with sport, and from there, the games were formed.
The Stoke-Mandeville Games grew exponentially in the years following the first 1948 competition. By 1960, 400 athletes with disabilities from 23 countries were involved. That year, the competitors met at the Olympic Stadium in Rome.
There, Paralympic athletes went head-to-head in archery, basketball, swimming, fencing, javelin, shot put, club throwing, snooker, swimming, table tennis, and the pentathlon, according to PBS.org.
Because of the Paralympic Games, new technology and gear has been invented for disabled athletes and those in the disabled community. Lighter wheelchairs and carbon fiber, computer-fitted prosthetics are now commonly used by Paralympians and athletes with disabilities around the world.
Tune in to the 2018 Paralympics to see how resilient the human body can truly be. We’re rooting for you, Team USA!