The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games has been a long time coming, and we are finally getting to enjoy watching our favourite Paralympic athletes participate in some of the most nail-biting events we’ve seen in our lives. A celebration of ability, dedication and hard work, the Paralympic Games are a way for the world to see just how far we all can go. But have you ever watched an event and wondered just how they do it? Maybe you’re wondering what the actual rules are? Don’t worry, we have too, so today we’re going over five of our favourite Paralympic events and discovering what they entail.
Norah, Hailey, Lisa: Para-swimming
Para-swimming debuted when the Paralympics did in the 1960 Paralympic Games held in Rome, Italy. Since then it has continued to be one of the most popular events (especially among us here at GreenLeaf). It’s an event open to athletes with a physical, intellectual or vision impairment, however, there are no prostheses allowed in the pool. There have been rules changed and added to the Olympic rules to assist the swimmers though. Optimal platforms, in-water starts and the use of signals or ‘tappers’ for athletes with a vision impairment are all allowed, making this event one a great one to watch.
If you’ve ever wondered how one might play basketball or soccer blind, then this is the sport for you. Debuting in the 1976 Paralympic Games in Toronto, Canada, goalball is a way for athletes with a vision impairment to put their hearing skills to the test. Played with a 1.25kg audible ball, players are to wear blackout blindfolds as they aim to get the ball in the net. Each player (3 a side) sits and moves around the 18mx9m court, which is tactile so that players can orientate themselves as they move.
Michelle: Wheelchair Basketball
Wheelchair basketball has also been around since the very first Paralympic Games as one of the foundation sports, but the use of wheelchairs isn’t the only difference. In this event, there are five players aside on a regulated court with players given a number between 1.0 and 4.5 indicating their level of impairment. The catch? The team must not exceed 14.0 points while on the court keeping as fair as they can. Quite the event, the games are played on courts the same size as the Olympic basketball courts are and players are able to use three or four wheeled chairs.
Para-cycling was first seen at the 1984 Paralympic Games held in Stoke Mandeville/New York. Open to athletes with either a physical or visual impairment, the sport is divided into two events: track and road. Track cycling takes place on a velodrome and riders are to use either a tandem or standard bicycle. On the road though, riders have the additional choice to use a three-wheeled trike or handcycle. It’s a well-medalled event too with 2004 seeing 10 golds and 24 medals overall. We can’t wait to see what our Australian Para-cycling Team can achieve this year!
Para-athletics is once again a foundation of the Paralympic Games with events set across track and field for everyone to enjoy. The track division offers a range of sprints and long distance runs, relays, marathons and jumping events with athletes able to compete either standing, using race wheelchairs or race running. The field division sees standing throwers compete in discus, shotput and javelin events, while seated throwers – who throw from a frame – participate in shotput, club, discus and javelin events. Athletes with a physical, intellectual or vision impairment are qualified to compete meaning a wide range of aids are also allowed. For example, leg prosthetics are required for track events while rope tethers and similar devices are allowed to be used by those with vision impairments. This is why you may see a runner looking like they are being led by their guide.
The pride, excitement and emotions are all coming to a head as the Australian Paralympic Team says ‘Ready Set Tokyo.’ You can watch and experience the Games live from home on Channel 7 or stream your favourite events through the 7Plus app, and let us know which events you’re excited to watch on our Facebook or Instagram pages. If you’d like to know more about the Australian Paralympic Team, you can check them out here and show you support by purchasing a Virtual Seat today.