10 things you might not know about the Paralympic Games

Paralympic GamesIf you're not sure who Oscar Pistorius is, can't name the British Paralympian winner of 11 gold medals and haven't heard of boccia then you really need to read our 10 fascinating facts.

1. German neurologist Dr Ludwig Guttmann created the Paralympic Games. Guttmann was a strong advocate of using sports therapy to improve the lives of injured soldiers. While working at a hospital in Buckinghamshire, he established the International Wheelchair Games, forerunner of the Paralympics.

2. The first Paralympic Games were held in Rome in 1960. The competition is now the world's second largest sporting event, after the Olympics.

3. Team GB's performance in the Olympics might be... unpredictable, but we're world champions when it comes to the Paralympic Games. Great Britain hasn't been out of the top four nations in the medal table since 1988.

4. Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson is one of Britain's most successful Paralympians. She's won 16 medals, 11 of them gold. Read her Mumsnet Q&A.

5. Paralympians who have also competed in the Olympic Games include South African swimmer Natalie du Toit. She finished 16th in the women's marathon 10km swimming event in Beijing in 2008, and was less than a minute and a half behind the winner after more than six miles of swimming.

6. The Olympics and Paralympic Games are not yoked together, but since the Seoul Games in 1988, the Paralympics have taken place in the same city and venues as the Olympics. This will continue until at least 2020.

7. There are three pairs of brothers among Team GB's 2012 athletes. Sam and Joe Ingram (judo), Dan and Marc Powell (judo again), and Peter and Stephen McGuire (boccia).

8. Great Britain are the defending Paralympic champions at the team event in Boccia, a precision sport similar to bowls.

9. Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee known as 'Blade Runner' due to his carbon fibre running blades, is a figure of great controversy. His decision to enter both the 2012 Olympics and Paralympian Games is seen by some in the Paralympic community as a defection.

10. The 2012 Paralympic Games will be the biggest ever, with more countries partcipating and athletes competing than ever before. Coldplay are also performing at the closing ceremony. You can't get bigger than that. 

Last updated: 29-Aug-2012 at 9:14 AM