ARCHERY• Skill, concentration and nerves of steel will all be on show at the Archery competition at London 2012.• Although Archery was originally developed as a means of rehabilitation and recreation for people with a physical disability, it rapidly evolved into the internationally competitive sport on show at the Games today.
Athletics• Speed, strength, power and stamina will be on display during the Athletics competition, the largest sport at the Paralympic Games. 1,100 athletes compete for 170 gold medals across track, field and road events.• Some athletes compete in wheelchairs or throwing frames, others with prostheses, and others with the guidance of a sighted companion
BOCCIA• Boccia is a target sport that tests muscle control and accuracy, demanding extreme skill and concentration at the highest level.• Believed to have Ancient Greek origins, Boccia is a tough test of nerve, tactics and skill. Played on a rectangular court by individuals, pairs and teams, the sport offers both tension and excitement, as athletes aim to land balls close to a target ball, across a series of demanding ends. The sport is similar to boules or petanque.
CYCLING ROAD• Paralympic Cycling was originally developed as a sport for blind athletes, who first competed using tandem bicycles. Technological advancements have since opened up the sport to a wider range of athletes; as a result, it is now the third largest sport on the Paralympic programme.
CYCLING TRACK• Paralympic Cycling was originally developed as a sport for blind athletes, who first competed using tandem bicycles. Technological advancements have since opened up the sport to a wider range of athletes; as a result, it is now the third largest sport on the Paralympic programme.
EQUESTRIAN• The Equestrian events test the ability of horse and rider to display both athletic prowess and supreme elegance.• Athletes with a disability have long taken part in Equestrian activities, originally as a means of rehabilitation and recreation. Para-Equestrian Dressage developed in the 1970s, with the first events held in Great Britain and Scandinavia. The multi-disability sport has since spread around the world, and athletes from more than 40 countries now compete on a regular basis.
FOOTBALL 5 –a-SIDE• One of two forms of Football on the Paralympic programme, 5-a-side Football is a thrilling, fast- moving sport. Played by visually impaired athletes using a ball with a noise-making device inside, the sport offers skill and drama in equal measure, with eight teams battling for gold at the new Riverbank Arena in the Olympic Park.
FOOTBALL 7-a-SIDE• 7-a-side Football is a fast-moving and fiercely competitive sport played by athletes with cerebral palsy. At London 2012, the Riverbank Arena will host eight men’s teams in a 20- match tournament, culminating in the gold medal match on 9 September.
GOALBALL• Played competitively in more than 100 countries, Goalball is one of the most popular Paralympic sports.• Since it was developed as a rehabilitation activity for injured soldiers returning from World War II, Goalball has spread around the world. Played by visually impaired athletes using a ball with bells inside, it is among the most exciting team sports on the Paralympic programme.
JUDO• The only martial art on the Paralympic programme, the gripping, grappling sport of Judo offers plenty of action.• Developed from jujitsu and established as a sport in the late 19th century by Dr Jigoro Kano, Judo requires athletes to employ an intricate mix of attack and defence. Contested at the Paralympic Games by visually impaired athletes, the sport’s one-on-one battles can be tough, tense and explosive, as competitors grapple for command against determined opponents.
POWERLIFTING• Powerlifting is a bench-press competition – the ultimate test of upper-body strength.• With athletes from more than 100 countries now involved in international competition, it is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports. The bench-press contest offers a tense and dramatic sporting spectacle, as athletes battle to lift more weight than their rivals.
SAILING• Appearing at the Paralympic Games for only the second time, the sport of Rowing will be held on the waters at Eton Dorney during London 2012.• Although its history dates back centuries, Rowing only came of age as a competitive sport in the last 200 years. Interest began to increase after Oxford and Cambridge Universities began their rivalry on the Thames in 1829, a rivalry that continues today in the shape of the annual Boat Race. The sport made its Paralympic debut in Beijing 2008 – when Great Britain topped the medal table.
SHOOTING• A total of 80 athletes will be sailing for gold in the waters of Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.• Sailing for athletes with a disability began to develop as a competitive sport in the 1980s, just over 10 years before it joined the Paralympic programme. Mastery over ever-changing conditions on open water requires skill, tactics and nerve.
SWIMMING• With the second largest number of athletes and events at the Games, Swimming is one of the most popular Paralympic sports.• Evidence of people swimming for sport dates all the way back to Ancient Egyptian and Ancient Greek times, and it is now a hugely popular activity all over the world. With 600 swimmers competing in nearly 150 medal events across 10 days in the new Aquatics Centre, the Swimming competition at the Paralympic Games promises plenty of excitement.
TABLE TENNIS• With 29 medal events and nearly 300 athletes, Table Tennis is one of the largest sports on the Paralympic programme.• Table Tennis has come a long way from its origins in the late 19th century, when it developed as an after- dinner game played by upper-class English families. A permanent part of the Paralympic programme since the first Games in 1960, the sport blends power, speed, skill and subtlety – no wonder it is the biggest participation sport in the world.
SITTING VOLLEYBALL• With men and women going for gold across 10 days of quick-paced competition, Sitting Volleyball should offer plenty of thrills at London 2012.• Sitting Volleyball emerged in the Netherlands in the 1950s, a combination of Volleyball and a German game called Sitzbal. It really began to increase in popularity during the 1960s, and has since grown into one of the most fast-paced and exciting Paralympic sports. It is now played by athletes in more than 50 countries around the world.
WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL• Wheelchair Basketball is one of the most popular sports at the Paralympic Games.• The sport was developed by American World War II veterans as part of their rehabilitation programme, but its popularity soon spread around the world. Now played in more than 80 countries, it is one of the most dynamic on the Paralympic programme.
WHEELCHAIR FENCING• The Paralympic sport of Wheelchair Fencing features three different weapons, 100 athletes – and plenty of action.• Although sword fighting dates back thousands of years, Fencing as we now understand it came of age as a sport in the 19th century. Developed in the years after World War II at Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympic Games, Wheelchair Fencing is a fierce, fast-moving battle of tactics and technique.
WHEELCHAIR RUGBY• The Wheelchair Rugby competition will see eight highly- motivated teams square off in a fiercely competitive battle for gold. Wheelchair Rugby was invented in 1977 by a group of Canadian quadriplegic athletes, who were looking for an alternative to Wheelchair Basketball that would allow players with reduced arm and hand function to participate on equal terms. The sport they created, which incorporates some elements of Basketball, Handball and Ice Hockey, has since grown into a thrilling and intense spectacle, and is enormously popular with Paralympic spectators around the world.
WHEELCHAIR TENNIS• Wheelchair Tennis was invented in 1976 by Brad Parks, who had been experimenting with tennis as a recreational therapy after he was injured in a freestyle skiing competition.• Since these humble beginnings, the sport has grown at an amazing rate: now fully integrated into all four Grand Slam Tennis events, and with more than 170 tournaments on the ITF’s own Wheelchair Tennis Tour, it is more popular than ever.