Paralympic heritage

History of the Paralympics

The Paralympic movement began in 1948 at Stoke Mandeville hospital, thanks to the hard work and dedication of Dr Ludwig Guttmann.

Following World War II, the British government asked Dr Guttmann to set up a spinal injuries centre at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital. The aim was to care for and assist people who had been injured.

In 1948 Dr Guttmann organised the first competition for wheelchair athletes. He called this the Stoke Mandeville Games. The games were held on the same day as the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London. 16 injured servicemen and women took part in an archery competition.

In time, the games expanded to include more sports and included athletes from all over the world. The Stoke Mandeville Games became known as the Paralympic Games in time for the 1960 summer Olympics in Rome.

Paralympic flame

Stoke Mandeville is the birthplace of the Paralympic movement. It has hosted the flame lighting ceremony for each of the Paralympic games since 2014.

Previous Paralympians involved in the ceremony include:

  • Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson
  • Hannah Cockroft
  • Kelly Gallagher
  • Margaret Maughan
  • Ali Jawad
  • Sophie Christiansen