Friday, August 31, 2012

Paralympic Games, Judo

Officially, the first Paralympic Games were held in Rome 1960. In fact, the second biggest sporting event in the world began 12 years earlier, at a Buckinghamshire hospital. When Dr. Ludwig Guttmann noticed two of his wheelchair-bound patients passing a pebble between walking sticks, he started to develop the idea of an event to show sport was accessible to all, including the disabled. 

The result was the first Mandeville Games in 1948 , created by Guttmann, who founded the National Spinal Injuries at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, (hence the Paralympic Mascot's name being Mandeville). That was a two day archery competition between two teams of paraplegics. It happened to start on the same day as another event Britain was staging that year, the 1948 London Olympic Games. That is why Lord Coe told the crowd at the Olympic Stadium, "It is my great honour to say welcome home to the Paralympics Games". On the other hand, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, stated that the Paralympics will "inspire a lot of people and change people's views on disability". 

During the first day of the Paralympics Judo athletes showed the crowds there capabilities of winning, in the Excel, East London. Judo's one-on-one battles can be tough, tense and explosive, with visually impaired and  deaf athletes competing in contests lasting five minutes. 

Scores are awarded for throws, holds, armlocks and strangles. The contests ends immediately if a competitor is awarded 'ippon', i.e. the maximum score. However, if a contest is tied after five minutes, there is a golden score period where the first score of any sort wins.     
Being a spectator in the Excel, watching Judo, but also the crowds of people who went to the first day of the Paralympic Games, it is inspiring to see athletes, with a certain disability, achieve their goals of obtaining a Parlaympic medal.  

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