What are the Paralympics?
The first Paralympics was held during the 1960 Summer Games in Italy. Since then, the Paralympics have been held just weeks after the Olympics in the same venue and city.
To participate in the Paralympics an athlete must have one of the ten eligible impairments, such as visual impairment, amputations or cerebral palsy. Each Paralympic athlete is grouped into a sport class, which allows athletes with similar limitations to fairly compete together.
The 2016 Paralympics has over 4,300 athletes from 161 nations competing; this is a sizeable difference to the Olympics that had over 11,000 athletes from 207 nations compete. Despite size, both the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics have athletes competing in the same 22 sports.
When and how can I watch the Paralympics?
The 2016 Rio Paralympics is the largest and most broadcasted Paralympics in history, so be sure to tune in on NBC. The opening ceremony started off the games on Wednesday, September 7 and the closing ceremonies will take place on Sunday, September 18, 2016. The swimming events started on Thursday, September 8 and will end on Saturday, September 17, 2016.
Who to watch?
In swimming, U.S. Army Sgt. Elizabeth Marks will be competing at her first Paralympics. While serving in Iraq Marks suffered bilateral hip injuries and nearly died of respiratory distress. Today Marks holds a top worldwide swimming ranking and was the 2016 winner of the Pat Tillman Award for Service at the ESPY Awards. She will compete in the breaststroke swimming events.
The 2016 Paralympics will notably be the first to host a paratriathlon. Team USA will be eager to watch Ally Seely compete in paratriathlon and track events. Seely has an amputee leg and was featured in ESPN’s 2016 Body Issue.
To learn more about other inspirational Paralympic athletes, visit Team USA’s Paralympics page.