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Paralympic Games - Sixty Years Old (July 29, 2008)
July 2008 marks the 60th Anniversary of the start of what is now called the Paralympic Games. Following World War II, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann at the request of the British Government, founded the National Spine Injuries Center at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in the UK. The year was 1944 and the purpose was to introduce a sport as a form of recreation to help in the remedial treatment and rehabilitation of the returning soldiers. On July 29, 1948, the day the Olympic Games in London were opened, the Stoke Mandeville Games were founded and the first competitors with athletes with spinal cord injuries took place. There was a total of 14 service men and 2 former women who competed in Archery. From this date forward the Stoke Mandeville Games were held annually. In 1960 the now International Stoke Mandeville Games were held for the first time in the same country and city as the Olympic Games. This is known as the "First Paralympic Games". The Paralympic movement, not to be confused with "Special Olympics" has really gained ground and has become a successful meeting of elite athletes with physical disabilities. The 2008 Games will have over 4000 Paralympians, from 145 countries who will participate in 20 different athletic events. Just in the sport of Judo for the US, the only Gold that has been won has been by the US Paralympic Judo team since Judo was introduced at the Olympics in 1964. Judo was introduced at the 1988 Paralympic Games and in 2000 in Sydney, the US Paralympic Judo Team won 2 Gold, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze for America. We've truly come a long ways!
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