The first Paralympic Games were held in Rome, Italy, in 1960, and 400 athletes from 23 countries competed.

Dr. Ludwig Guttmann, who opened a spinal injuries center at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Great Britain, is credited with founding the Paralympic Games. On July 29, 1948, he organized the first competition for wheelchair athletes — an archery match with 16 injured servicemen and women — and called it the Stoke Mandeville Games.

Paralympic Motto: Spirit in Motion

Paralympic Agitos: The Paralympic agitos are a symbol of movement — the Latin word "agito" translates to "I move." The red, blue and green colors stand for the colors most widely represented in national flags.

Paralympic Flag: The flag has a white background and the Paralympic agitos. The three colors on the flag represent colors that most often appear in national flags.

Paralympic Flame: Like the Olympic Games, the Paralympic flame is lit and carried into the Opening Ceremony through a torch relay. The Paralympic flame is lit from other flames brought from regions of the host country, and may also include flames from other countries.

Did You Know?

  • The 2012 Paralympic Games in London featured than 4,300 athletes from 164 countries.
  • There were 20 sports contested in London, totaling 503 events. In the inaugural Paralympic Games in Rome, only 57 events in 8 sports were contested.
  • The Paralympic Winter Games were first held in 1976 in Sweden.
  • The word "Paralympic" derives its meaning from the Greek preposition "para," which means beside or alongside, and Olympic. At its core, the Paralympic Games are parallel to the Olympic Games.
  • The International Paralympic Committee was formed in September 1989 with the mission of enabling Paralympic athletes to achieve sporting excellence and inspire and excite the world. U.S. Paralympics was formed in 2001 as a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee.