The first Paralympic Games for physically handicapped sportsmen, mostly British soldiers – disabled people from WWII, were held on 29th July1948. It took place on the same day as the Opening Ceremony of the XIV Olympic Games.
Neurologist Dr. Ludwig Guttmann (1899 – 1980) from Stoke Mandeville hospital in Aylesbury organised a wheelchair archery contest for soldiers with spinal cord injuries. He was convinced that sport is a form of therapy. The first, still British, repetition took place in 1952 in the same location, and athletes from Holland joined it. Stoke Mandeville Games were awarded by Fearnly Cup by International Olympic Committee in 1956.
In 1966, Guttmann had been knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, thus became Knight of the Order of the British Empire. In 1960, the games took place in Rome during the Olympic Games, the following cities were Tokyo, Tel-Aviv and Heidelberg. In Toronto in 1976 not only athletes in wheelchairs took part, but also athletes with a wide range of disabilities.
The Paralympic Games are coming back to its cradle with a wide-ranging schedule for more than 4,000 contestants from 166 countries who will participate in 21 disciplines. Besides the traditional Olympic disciplines (light athletics, swimming, weightlifting, fencing, equestrian disciplines, cycling, rowing, yachting) or games (football, volleyball, basketball, rugby, tennis, table tennis) we will see also a extremely popular game of boccia or goalball. It was devised after WWII as a ball game for visually impaired soldiers. It is played in silence and players try to throw a ball that has bells embedded in it into the opponent’s goal.
The players do not see the ball; they only hear it. But after the goal, the applause is an legitimate doping… Let’s believe that even the Slovak athletes will be as successful as they were at the last Paralympic Games where they earned two gold medals overall, three silver medals and one bronze medal in table tennis, shooting and cycling.
Title: Paralympic Games 2012 London – Slovakia
Date of Issue: 28 June 2012
Denominations: 0.90 € x 2