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A short history of the paralympics

World Para Nordic Skiing Championships. February 16, 2019 - Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. Kelly Bergman/BergMedia
World Para Nordic Skiing Championships. February 16, 2019 – Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. Kelly Bergman/BergMedia

The history of paralympic games goes back more than 70 years.

The 2019 World Para Nordic Ski Championships, currently underway at the Otway Nordic Centre in Prince George, are part of that long history.

The Stokes Mandeville Games for wheelchair athletes was held in 1948 and is considered the very first Paralympic Games.

Host committee chair Kevin Pettersen grabs a quick lunch. Kelly Bergman/BergMedia
Host committee chair Kevin Pettersen grabs a quick lunch. Kelly Bergman/BergMedia

In 1964 International Sport Organization for the Disabled (ISOD) formed to include other disabilities besides wheelchairs users; visually impaired, amputees, paraplegic, cerebral palsy. Twelve years later, in 1976, the first Winter Paralympic Games were held in Sweden.

In 1989, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) was founded, amalgamating the four separate disability organizations that loosely formed the ISOD

In 1991, the Canadian government launched the National Strategy for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities, a five-year interdepartmental federal government program aimed at reducing the barriers to full participation in Canadian society for persons with a disability

In 1992 the Winter Paralympics were held for the first time at the same venue as the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.

In 1993 Sport Canada supported both mainstream and disability-based sport organizations through its Sport Support Program and moves to have National Sport Organizations responsible for both Olympic and Paralympic teams

In 2006, the federal government mandates that all national sport organizations (eg: Cross Country Canada) must have coaching programs for Olympic and Paralympic athletes that adheres to Long Term Athlete Development Program.

The timeline above shows you how the Winter Para sports have evolved in a short amount of time. There were a lot of organizations which were overseeing a specific disability.  

It wasn’t until 1989 when the IPC was founded that we have the Winter Paralympics that we know now.

Mayor Lyn Hall out enjoying the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Prince George. Kelly Bergman/BergMedia
Mayor Lyn Hall out enjoying the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Prince George. Kelly Bergman/BergMedia

In Canada and in B.C., the history of Winter Para sports follows the same pathway. There were many different organizations catering to different disabilities and some of those organizations are still around for recreational sports. But for Paralympics and World Para Championships, the organizations that support competitive athletes must be part of the federal government recognized sport structure, i.e., have coaches trained in the Long Term Athlete Development Framework (LTAD) and belong to a club affiliated with the National Sport Organization.

Today, the only B.C. club running a competitive Para-Nordic ski program is the Nordic Racers Ski Club. There are para-athletes across B.C. but they are being coached singularly (for example, Natalie Wilkie in Salmon Arm), and their clubs do not have a program to recruit and train Para-Nordic athletes. 

World Para Nordic Skiing Championships. February 18, 2019 - Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. Kelly Bergman/BergMedia
Canadian Collin Cameron captures his first career world championship title for Canada at the 2019 World World Para Nordic Skiing Championships. February 18, 2019 – Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. Kelly Bergman/BergMedia

 

 

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