PARALYMPIC GAMES UNDER EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES

The XVI Paralympic Games are ongoing in the city of Tokyo.

In the world of sport, the elite athletes fight to be able to participate in the Olympic Games, the greatest exponent and representation of the best challengers. The history goes back much further than our era. We must rearward to 776 BC. in Ancient Greece to find the first edition of these contests in the city of Zeus, Olympia. Whereas it is true that both the structure and the disciplines involved are different, the inspiration came from our Hellenic ancestors.

1896 is considered to be the origin of the modern Olympic Games. During this stage, it is worth noting the participation of George Eyser, the first Paralympic athlete who in 1904 competed in the Olympic Games, managing to obtain six medals in a single day with a prosthetic leg. His remarkable contribution was supported by many other athletes with disabilities, who despite significant obstacles struggled to face the competition every four years.

Around the fourtees, British Jewish neurologist Ludwig Guttmann founded the Paralympic Games in England after his traumatic exile to the United Kingdom. His desire to reintegrate his patients with spinal cord injuries into a full social life included the inclusion of the sports discipline, emphasizing not only their recreational time but also their psychological and rehabilitative benefits.

Yet it was not until 1960 and coinciding with the XVII Olympic Games that the first Paralympic Games in history were held in Rome, thus allowing equal treatment to people with a physical disability. The International Paralympic Committee (ICC) establishes ten categories of disability that include physical, intellectual and visual disabilities, thus guaranteeing a situation of equity among the participants.

In the following years, when the Paralympic Games gained more reputation and they counted with severe international participation, its promoter, Ludwig Guttman, issued a true declaration of intent: “The purpose of the Stoke Mandeville Games is to unite men and women with paralysis from all over the world in an international sports movement. Your true sportsmanship will give hope and inspiration to thousands of people with disabilities.” (Ludwig Guttman, 1956)

The 2020 Paralympic Games are the sixteenth Games, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic they were postponed to this summer 2021 in the Nipponese capital, Tokyo. The Paralympic Games are held between August 24 and September 5. It is the first year that the Paralympics will introduce new disciplines such as badminton, electric wheelchair hockey, amputee soccer and taekwondo, while removing other sports such as sailing and soccer 7. It results in 22 sports played with a total representation of 135 agents (129 athletes and 15 supporters), to whom the fans cling to the dream of a new Paralympic medal.

A few days from the ending, some remarkable participations have already been observed. This is the case of Eva Moral, Toyota team triathlete with whom we collaborate to improve the ABLE exoskeleton. The Spaniard was awarded the bronze medal in the PTWC triathlon category, setting a time of 1:14:59. During a cycling race, Eva suffered a bicycle accident after plunging down a seven-meter ravine as a consequence of losing control. Eight years later, this Madrid lawyer ha found in sports a mental and physical rehabilitation that has become vital for her.

Before the accident she already did triathlons, and discovering that she could continue performing allowed her to fight for her goal of participating in the Paralympic Games. After many hours of work, Eva has achieved her dream with a resounding success score, demonstrating her great form and her high capabilities. Eva attributes her success to the philosophy of life tattooed on her right forearm, where she demonstrates her attitude in the face of adversity: “Never give up”. Her tears appeared after recalling the unconditional support of her family and friends, especially her partner and handler, Ángel Salamanca.

“Today a little bit of this medal is for those people who are now having a bit of a bad time. Life goes on and it’s great, whether we win medals or not. We have to do what we are passionate about” (Eva Moral, Paralympic bronze in triathlon)

Congratulations Eva!



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