100 things to know about the Paralympic Games (76-100)Countdown to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics with some fascinating facts, historical moments and key information, from the founder of the Movement to the tallest Paralympian! 16 May 2021
76. Boccia’s roots date back to Ancient Greece, where players threw large stones at a stone target. There were also objects and mural engravings relating to a similar form of boccia that were found as early as 5200 BC during the excavation of the tombs in Egypt. The sport was also played in marketplaces and in the streets during the Middle Ages, and the word ‘boccia’ is derived from the Italian meaning to bowl.
77. Under Olympic rules in table tennis, the ball must be placed in the open palm of the hand, thrown at least 16 cm into the air perpendicular to the table, and struck. At the Paralympics, where this is not possible, the ball may be tossed by placing it on the elbow or on the racket.
78. Goalball was invented in 1946 to help rehabilitate veterans who had lost their sight during the Second World War. Hans Lorenzen of Austria and Sepp Reindle of Germany are credited with inventing the game.
79. Wheelchair rugby uses a size 5 volleyball with a modified surface to aid grip.
80. Track Para cycling made its Paralympic debut at Atlanta 1996, and road cycling at New York/Stoke Mandeville 1984.
81. In cycling, athletes with physical impairments either compete on handcycles, tricycles or bicycles. Athletes with a vision impairment compete on tandems with a sighted 'pilot.'
82. Reigning wheelchair rugby world champions Japan won their first Paralympic medal with bronze at Rio 2016.
83. A 2004 Olympian, Austria’s Pepo Puch was involved in an accident in 2008. But he found his way back on a horse and went on to win gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics.
84. Para canoe first featured with exhibition status under the name “paddleability” at the 2009 Canoe Sprint World Championships in Dartmouth, Canada, and was given official status as Para canoe at the following year’s edition in Poznan, Poland.
85. Some athletes competing in Para dressage use compensating aids such as a soft handhold attached to the front of the saddle if they cannot grip the reins.
86. Wheelchair tennis was invented in 1976 by Brad Parks, who had been experimenting with tennis as a recreational therapy after he was injured while skiing.
87. In powerlifting, each referee controls a white and a red light, with these two colours representing a “good lift” and “no lift”, respectively. An athlete must receive a minimum of two good lifts for their attempt to count towards the result.
88. After a ball is thrown in goalball, the defending players have 10 seconds to throw the ball back after one of them touches it.
89. Brazil have been undefeated in football 5-a-side at the Paralympics since its debut at Athens 2004.
90. Several Para athletes are also healthcare workers and have been on the frontline fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Dutch rowing champion and doctor Annika van der Meer, British table tennis Paralympian and junior doctor Kim Daybell and Venezuelan Para swimmer and doctor Genesis Leal are some who have been training and working overtime saving lives.
91. In athletics, the front wheel of each racer’s wheelchair must be in contact with the ground in front of the start line at the start of the race.
92. To help those with vision impairments recognise the different Tokyo 2020 Paralympic medals by touch, a series of circular indentations have been included on the side of the medals for the first time in Paralympic history. One indentation represents gold, two distinguishes silver and three identifies bronze. Braille letters also spell out “Tokyo 2020” on the medals’ face.
93. A record number of female athletes will compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. At least 40.5 per cent of all the athletes will be women, according to the IPC Qualification Criteria. This equates to 1,782 athletes, an increase on the 1,671 women who competed at Rio 2016 (38.6 per cent).
94. Rowing made its Paralympic debut at Beijing 2008, with the Italian mixed coxed four crew causing the first major upset. They had not reached the World Championship podium in the years leading up to the Games. However, the crew comprised of Paola Protopapa, Luca Agoletto, Daniele Signore, Graziana Saccocci and cox Alssandro Franzetti beat world champions Germany and runner-up Great Britain to take gold on Chinese soil.
95. In wheelchair races, athletes are considered to have finished the race when the centre of the racer’s front wheel reaches the finish line.
96. Celebrities Aretha Franklin, Carly Simon, Liza Minnelli, and Hall & Oates all performed at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Opening Ceremony.
97. Coldplay, Rihanna and Jay-Z performed at the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics.
98. Algeria made history at the 2016 Paralympics as the first African women’s wheelchair basketball team playing in the Games.
99. A total of 83 countries won at least one medal at Rio 2016, the most ever at a Paralympic Games.
100. China have been the country with most gold medals at each Paralympic Games since Athens 2004. They won 63 in the Greek capital city, followed by 89 at Beijing 2008, 95 at London 2012 and 107 at Rio 2016.
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