Summer Paralympic Games
The Summer Paralympic Games or the Games of the Paralympiad, are an international multi-sport event where athletes with physical disabilities compete. This includes athletes with mobility disabilities, amputations, blindness, and cerebral palsy. The Paralympic Games are held every four years, organized by the International Paralympic Committee. Medals are awarded in each event, with gold medals for first place, silver for second and bronze for third, a tradition that the Olympic Games started in 1904.
Twelve countries ò Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, United States ò have been represented at all Summer Paralympic Games. Seven of those countries have won at least one gold medal at every Summer Paralympic Games: Australia, Austria, France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United States.
The United States have been the top-ranking nation for eight of the Paralympic Summer Games: 1964, 1968, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996. China have been the top-ranking nation for the four most recent Games, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. Italy (1960), West Germany (1972) and Australia (2000) have been the top-ranking nation one time each.
Every participant at the Paralympics has their disability grouped into one of ten disability categories; impaired muscle power, impaired passive range of movement, limb deficiency, leg length difference, short stature, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis, vision impairment and intellectual impairment. Each Paralympic sport then has its own classifications, dependent upon the specific physical demands of competition. Events are given a code, made of numbers and letters, describing the type of event and classification of the athletes competing. Some sports, such as athletics, divide athletes by both the category and severity of their disabilities, other sports, for example swimming, group competitors from different categories together, the only separation being based on the severity of the disability. Within the ten disability categories the athletes still need to be divided according to their level of impairment. The classification systems differ from sport to sport, and is intended to even the playing field so as to allow as many athletes to participate as possible. Classifications vary in accordance with the different skills required to perform the sport.