Barcelona 92 acted as a turning point for the entire Paralympic Movement, and today is still referred to as the best Games ever by many who witnessed what took place in the Catalan capital.

For the first time the Games benefitted from daily live domestic TV coverage. They were played out in front of packed venues and, in some areas, befitted from comparable levels of organisation and service to the Olympics.

Regardless of whether you were an Olympian or Paralympian, performances were greeted with the same level of enthusiasm and support.

Overall 2,999 Para athletes (2,300 men and 699 women) took part in 489 medal events across 16 sports.  Para athletes broke 279 world and 489 Paralympic records.

Barcelona 1992 were the last Games to be organised by the International Co-ordinating Committee (ICC), following the formation of the IPC in 1989, and benefited hugely from the financial support of the ONCE Foundation.


Sixteen different sports were featured in Barcelona, with athletics having the largest number of entries. The most popular sport with spectators was indoor football.

Athletics had the most entrants of any sport at Barcelona 1992

The 16 sports were; archery, Para athletics, boccia, cycling, football 7-a-side, judo, goalball, Para powerlifting, shooting Para sport, Para swimming, table tennis, sitting volleyball, weightlifting, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing and wheelchair tennis.


The Opening Ceremony of Barcelona 1992

The Opening Ceremony on 3 September in the Montjuic Olympic Stadium was attended by 65,000 spectators and watched by millions of viewers on television. Nearly 90 delegations took part in the parade, and support was reinforced by the presence of Juan Antonio Samaranch (President of the IOC), King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, and Mayor Pasqual Maragall, who were highly supportive of the Games.

Para archer Antonia Rebello, who had been responsible for the spectacular lighting of the cauldron during the Olympic Opening Ceremony, once again took centre stage. His extraordinary aim saw him shoot his arrow high above the Olympic stadium to get the Games underway.


The USA finished atop the medal standings, with Germany a close second, collecting just four fewer medals overall. Great Britain, France and Spain completed the top five.


The USA's vision impaired swimmer Trischa Zorn won 10 gold and two silver medals, while her teammate Elizabeth Scott took home seven golds in the pool.  Compatriots John Morgan and Bart Dodson won all eight medals in their swimming and athletics events, respectively.

In wheelchair basketball, the Canadian women’s team won gold, beating USA 35-26 in the final.

Ajibola Adeoye, a single-arm amputee from Nigeria, finished the 100m dash in 10.72 seconds.

The men’s wheelchair marathon provided a thrilling finish for the 65,000 spectators in the Olympic Stadium when Switzerland’s Heinz Frei beat a field of 196 competitors to cross the finish in a time of 1:30 hours.

Heinz Frei won a thrilling men's wheelchair marathon at Barcelona 1992


Although tickets for both the sold-out Opening and Closing Ceremonies came at a price, tickets for all 16 sports were made available free of charge.

The Spanish public responded en-masse, and a record 1.5 million people attended the Games.

Many venues were regularly filled with hugely passionate crowds. Huge queues developed for any sport involving Spanish teams or athletes, and it was not uncommon for people to be turned away – such was the demand for a seat.

Millions also watched on television via daily coverage.


The Closing Ceremony took place on 22 September in the Palacio de Deportes following the men’s basketball final. More than 15,000 spectators attended.