Special Needs

Para sport: Challenges and Performance

Ahcene Bouteldja/ Athletics Head Coach
Qatar Paralympic Committee
24 January, 2017

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Contrary to what many people believe, Para sport is not a recreational activity but rather a performance sport with all its aspects.

1. Historic: 

Created in 1948 by Professor Ludwig Guttmann at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Para sports was of means of psychological and social rehabilitation for the those mutilated during the Second World War. But over the years the Para sport grew to a level of high sport performance. 

2. Qualification:

To take part in the Paralympic games, the athletes have to achieve the minimum qualifying standards at an IPC (international Paralympic Committee) recognized competition for some sports like athletics, swimming and power lifting while in some others they have to play and win several matches in the playoffs to be qualified.

3. Quota:

In Paralympic games and world championships, athletes who reached the minimum qualifying standards are not automatically qualified as it depends on the quotas allowed to their countries. So the qualification is more difficult than the Olympics.

4. Doping control:

As with able-bodied athletes, disabled athletes undergo doping controls and are punished just like valid athletes in case of a positive test. This proves that this is not recreation but rather a high level sport.

5. Equipment:

In addition to the high performance of disabled athletes, technology has a major role in the specific equipment such as wheelchairs and prostheses. During recent years, there has been a significant progress in the industry of the prosthesis and wheelchairs. The design of this equipment is specific to the biomechanical needs of athletes. Most prostheses are increasingly strong and lightweight and adapt better to the movement of the athlete. Measurements are taken of the athletes prior to the creation of such equipment, as it should be comfortable for the athlete and allow him to achieve his goals, but unfortunately such equipment is overpriced, so the richer the athlete the more the more likely they are to succeed.

6. Challenge:

Disabled athletes, with their tenacity defy the world by high-level sport and sometimes they defy able-bodied athletes even in their sport. Oscar Pistorius, from South Africa challenged the able-bodied athletes with his participation in the London Olympic Games and proved that he was able to compete even with his double amputation of his lower limbs.


Disabled athletes throughout the sport and their high performance try to prove their integration into society and to show that they are not different, they just have lost a limb or they are just injured after an accident.

8. No limits:

People with disabilities have no limits; they practice sports of very high risks like the various winter sports despite their difficulties and the risk of accidents. Nothing can stop them to reach their ambition.






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