In 2000, during the Sydney Games, the relationship between the International Paralympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee was further strengthened by the signing of a memorandum of understanding and later the signing of a cooperative agreement.  Since then the parallel relationship of the two organisations has resulted in the two largest sporting spectacles on earth being organised closely together.  After the success of Sydney came the Athens Games in 2004. The 2008 games at Beijing, famously described by the Chinese as "a games of equal splendour" in the way that there was som uch more parity between Olympics and Paralympics, were arguably surpassed in their turn by the London games of 2012.  

The Games have come a long way since their origins at Stoke Mandeville in 1948.  At Beijing the games hosted 146 countries made up of 3951 athletes showing that the movement has gone a significant distance towards realising Ludwig Guttmann’s vision of a global competition where disabled athletes could compete on a level with their non-disabled counterparts. 

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Sophie Christiansen won her first medal, a bronze, in the CP equestrian event at Athens aged just 16; she has since gone on to take gold at Beijing and London. She describes what the Athens games meant for her here

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Danny Crates won gold at Athens in the 800 metres and took the world record in the same year. He describes the challenges and techniques of running for an arm-amputee athlete here

"Athens was exciting; there was always the worry about it being built on time; the crowds were good. It was my first Paralympics and obviously I've got great memories winning a gold and a silver... Beijing was way more spectacular, way bigger, much more media... For Bijing, to repeat what I did in Athens was a wonderful achievement which i'm really proud of." Peter Norfolk

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Peter Norfolk won Britain's first tennis gold at Athens and then repeated the achievement in Beijing. At London he was voted by the rest ofthe team to act as flag bearer for the opening ceremony. He reflects on the three games here.


"There's no 'triumph over adversity' in the race. The triumph over adversity came five, ten or fifteen years earlier when you had your accident and you got yourself back. All you are trying to do now is beat another seven people of a similar disability class. It's competition. Danny Crates

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Danny Crates was a successful middle-distance runner before he was invited to become one of the Channel 4 team for the 2012 games. He describes the challenges of commentating on the Paralympics here

"I really do feel that the crowd rowed every stroke with us; it was almost as if they were in as much physical pain as we were. But they wanted us to win so badly." Naomi Riches

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Naomi Riches was in the adaptive rowing mixed coxed four that took bronze at Beijing in 2008. She describes how the team prepared for and won gold at London in 2012 here


"Directly as a result of what happened in London I am proud to be disabled, whereas I was embarrassed to be disabled before" James Brown

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James Brown won his first gold as runner at New York in 1984. He took Bronze for Ireland in the cycling time trial in 2012. He reflects on the significance of the London games here

"I believe that today's Paralympians will become future superstars and be recognised as such, pure and simply because that word 'para' means parallel to, not 'disabled'... as such they are athletes first and disabled second, whereas when I was competing it was the other way around." Tony Griffin

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Tony Griffin won his first golds as a cerebral palsy athlete at New York in 1984 for javelin and for Indian club before going on to compete at another two Paralympic games. He reflects on the meaning of London 2012 for older athletes like himself here

"The level at which sport is now practised at and its status has improved hugely. The whole thing is now much more focused. The athletes who now take part in the Paralympics are sportsmen who happen to be disabled; previously they were disabled people who happened to do a bit of sport." Keith Delderfield, one  of the organisers of the 1984 Stoke Mandeville games

This page was added on 07/10/2011.

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