Four days after the closing of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, China lit the 2008 Paralympic torch at Beijing’s ancient Temple of Heaven, marking the start of the Sept. 6 Games.
The flame was passed to Beijing Olympic chief Liu Qi by 27 year old Jin Jing, a wheelchair-bound fencer who is a national hero after her defence of the Olympic torch during the Paris leg of the troubled global relay.
The Paralympics will be held from Sept. 6 to 17 and will see approximately 4,000 competitors in the Games this year.
Ponoka can be proud of their very own Paralympic athlete. Lori Radke was born in Ponoka in 1966 and began playing wheelchair basketball in 1993. A year after that she joined the national team and has attended three Paralympic Games, winning a gold medal in Atlanta in 1996, a gold in Sydney in 2000 and a bronze in Athens in 2004.
The Paralympic Games closely follow the Olympics but there are many fans and supporters attending the event.
According to the official website of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, there had been approximately 1.19 million tickets distributed prior to the Games.
The numbers account for about 72 per cent of the total 1.65 million tickets that are on sale.
Among the 1.19 million tickets, approximately 300,000 were tickets for students, disabled and common citizens.
The tickets are in high demand and the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games made more seats available at the popular sites including the National Stadium, and the National Aquatics Centre (Bird’s Nest and Water Cube) to which tickets were quickly sold out.
The committee added more new tickets to meet the demand on Aug. 26 and by the afternoon the tickets for the Water Cube were sold out with a number of tickets still available for the Bird’s Nest.
The overwhelming response of Beijing and the world to the Paralympics is well deserved. The athletes practice and train hard and should not be completely overshadowed by the Olympics.
The Paralympic Games is a great event for the world and deserves to be recognized and celebrated. The events are intense and the skills are phenomenal and the Games should receive adequate international news media coverage.
The Games have been in motion beginning in 1948 in England when Sir Ludwig Guttmann organized a sports competition involving Second World War veterans with a spinal cord injury. Four years after that participants from the Netherlands joined in on the games and it grew from there.
The first organized games were held in Rome in 1960, then, in Toronto, in 1976, other groups were added and different disability groups merged together to form an international sports competition.
Today the Paralympics are events for athletes from six different disability groups and highlight the athlete’s individual achievements. The number of competitors has grown incredibly over the years from 400 athletes from 23 countries in Rome in 1960 to 3,806 athletes from 136 countries in Athens in 2004.
The Games are an encouragement to all and the achievements and stories should be broadcasted around the world. So, don’t forget the inspiration of the Paralympic Games athletes, keep your television stationed to the coverage and cheer on your favourite athletes.