For at least 100 years, athletes with some sort of disability have competed in these games. As early as 1888, sports teams in Berlin, Germany encouraged the participation of deaf athletes; but it was not until the Second World War that athletes in the “Paralympic” category came to be recognized officially as such throughout the world.
With the onset of World War II, in 1939, the British government instituted a special hospital ward under the supervision of Polish physician Ludwig Guttmann to treat spinal injuries suffered by soldiers in combat. Guttman had pioneered sports as a means of rehabilitating patients with disabilities by increasing both their physical endurance and self-esteem. In this way, rehabilitation through physical training evolved from recreational to competitive sports. For the 1948 Olympic Games in London, Dr. Guttman organized archery competitions and wheelchair basketball for 16 disabled athletes.
Paralympics now became established internationally, and by 1960, at the games in Rome, the first Paralympic Games were held not only for war veterans, but any qualified athlete with a disability. These first Paralympic Games opened with 400 athletes representing 23 countries, and occur every four years to the present day. From the 1988 Games in Seoul to the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, the Paralympic Games take place alongside the Olympic Games, at the same venues and in the same cities.
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games was be held from September 7 to 18, and bring together 4,350 athletes from 176 countries participating in 528 events. The athletes will compete for medals in 23 different sports. For further information about individual events and the games please visit the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games website.
Barbados at the Paralympics
Barbados competed at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 7 September to 18 September 2016.
Barbados first competed at the Paralympic Games in 2000. It has participated in every Summer Paralympics since then. The country has never taken part in the Winter Paralympics and has never won a Paralympic medal. Only two people have represented Barbados at the games: Daniel Coulthurst, who competed in cycling in 2000 and 2004, and David Taylor, who competed in swimming in 2008.
- David Taylor
He was selected as Barbados’ flag bearer for the closing ceremony of the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto, ON, Canada. (paralympic.org, 15 Aug 2015)
He was given the Outstanding Membership Award by the Barbados Council for the Disabled. (IPC, 30 Sep 2009)
In 2001 his left leg was amputated above the knee as a result of cancer. (Athlete, 11 Jul 2015)
He was the only athlete to represent Barbados at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. He was also the second athlete in history to represent Barbados at the Paralympic Games, since the country made its first appearance with a single athlete at the 2000 Games in Sydney. (podium.ac.uk, 05 May 2009)
- Sean Courtney Jamal Cooke
- Christopher Gilkes
- Wesley Worrell