The year 2021 was an extraordinary year for Para sports and Para athletes as sports activities returned after nearly a year-long disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though athletes were back in action, the threat and danger of the coronavirus still prevented them from going all out. With restrictions and protocols in place, most of the competitions were held in empty stadiums and athletes missed the atmosphere of performing in front of their fans.
Having said that, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games was the biggest event of 2021 and was a grand success despite all odds.
And though the spectre of the virus is still there as the year 2022 gets underway, there are still a plethora of mega events lined up. This will give Para athletes ample of opportunities to display their full realm, win medals and titles, and more importantly, get into the groove once again.
BEIJING 2022 - THE MARQUE EVENT
With little over 50 days to go, the Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, will be the highlight of this year’s calendar.
This will be second successive edition of the quadrennial event to be held in Asia after the Pyeongchang 2018, in South Korea.
The Winter Paralympic Games that will run from 4-13 March will also see Beijing acquire a unique distinction of becoming the first city to host both the summer (2008) and winter Paralympic Games.
Competitions will be held in 78 events in six sports - Alpine Skiing, Nordic Skiing (Para Biathlon and Para Cross-country Skiing, Para Ice Hockey, Snowboard, and Wheelchair Curling - in three clusters - Beijing, Yanqing Cluster, and Zhangjiakou Cluster.
DRESS REHEARSAL AHEAD OF BEIJING
The build-up to the showpiece event starts with the postponed Lillehammer 2021 World Para Snow Sports Championships from 12 to 23 January 2022.
The event will be historic as for the first time in history that the Para Alpine Skiing, Para Biathlon, Para Cross-country and Para Snowboard World Championships are held in the same city, at the same time.
Initially scheduled to take place in Lillehammer, Norway from 7 to 20 February 2021, the competition was postponed due to the pandemic.
With 87 gold medals to be handed out and less than two months until the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, the athletes are expected to be in top form at Lillehammer 2021.
BIRMINGHAM TO BE IN SPOTLIGHT
The other big multi-sport events include the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham from 28 July to 8 August, though it is limited to countries that were once part of the British Commonwealth.
Birmingham will host competitions in Para Swimming, Para Athletics, Para Track Cycling, Para Lawn Bowls, Para Powerlifting, Para Table Tennis, Para Triathlon, and Wheelchair Basketball 3x3.
Around 25 countries including Australia, England, Canada, South Africa, India, New Zealand, Kenya, Nigeria, and some of the Caribbean nations will be participating in the event.
BACK TO CHINA IN OCTOBER
The Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, China from October 9-15 is another high-profile event to look forward to. Competitions will take place in 616 events in 22 sports with around 4,000 athletes taking part.
These three mega-events and a host of international competitions in various sports make 2022 a major year for Para athletes with all stakeholders hoping for a full season of competitions.
The even year between two editions of the Summer Paralympic Games is a time for World Championships in major sports, which also start the qualification programme for the next Paralympic Games in case of some disciplines.
With the Tokyo 2020 postponement disrupting the cycle of the Games, Paris 2024 looks closer than ever before. This means 2022 is a very crucial year for athletes to start their build-up for Paris as the qualification programme for some sports will start towards the end of the year.
This year’s calendar also features World Championships in Para Athletics, Shooting Para Sport, Para Badminton, Para Swimming, Wheelchair Rugby, and Wheelchair Basketball, among other events.
The World Para Swimming Series which will be held from 17-20 February at Aberdeen where the world's best will be looking to kick-start their season on a high.
The Para Swimming season will close with the World Championships in Madeira, Portugal from 12-18 June and all the big stars will be there, hoping to end the season as World Champion.
The second half of the year will have athletes taking part in the World Championships in Kobe, Japan from 26 August – 4 September.
The shooters are gearing up for the World Shooting Para Sports Championships at Al Ain, UAE from 3-17 November while the Para Badminton players will converge for the World Championships, which was postponed from 2021, at Tokyo from 1-6 November.
Vejle, Denmark, will continue to make itself known as a Para sports hub as it will host the 2022 Wheelchair Rugby World Championships from 8-17 October.
Also on the schedule are regular calendar events in various Para Sports that will go on despite the restrictions and protocols because the show must go on.