The multi-sport international event for athletes with physical disabilities is called Paralympics. It started in 1948 with a couple of British World War II veterans. There are Winter and Summer Paralympic Games and these are held right after the Olympic Games.
For years Paralympics have been striving for funds and equal treatment like that of the Olympic athletes. Here we bring you 10 athletes with disabilities who competed in the Paralympics as well as able-bodied competitions.
- 10 Athletes with Disabilities Who Competed in the Paralympics
- 10. Natalia Partyka (1989 – present)
- 9. Oscar Pistorius (1986 – present)
- 8. Marla Runyan (1969 – present)
- 7. Jeff Float (1960 – present)
- 6. Paola Fantato (1959 – present)
- 5. Neroli Fairhall (1944 – 2006)
- 4. Lis Hartel (1921 – 2009)
- 3. Olivér Halassy (1909 – 1946)
- 2. Ildikó Újlaky-Rejtő (birth – 1937)
- 1. George Eyser (1870 – unknown)
10 Athletes with Disabilities Who Competed in the Paralympics
10. Natalia Partyka (1989 – present)
Partyka is a table tennis player from Poland. She was born without a right arm. Partyka participates in both competitions for athletes with disabilities as well as competitions for able-bodied athletes. When she was 11, she participated in the 2000 Summer Paralympics becoming the youngest Paralympian ever. Partyka has a number of medals and titles to her name including a gold (for singles) and a silver (in team) at both the Beijing Paralympics and Athens Paralympics.
9. Oscar Pistorius (1986 – present)
Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius is a sprint runner hailing from South Africa. He was born with congenital absence of the fibula) in both legs. When he was 11-years-old, both his legs had to be amputated below the knee. After succeeding in the Paralympic, Pistorius decided to participate in the able-bodied international competition. Skeptics said that his artificial limb was an unfair advantage but following a legal call, he was allowed to enter the competition, in the the men’s 400 metres and 4 into 400 metres relay races. He became the first double leg amputee to do this.
8. Marla Runyan (1969 – present)
Runyan is an American marathon runner, road runner and a track and field athlete. Five times gold medallist at the Paralympic Games, Runyan is legally blind. Under the T13 classification for disability athletics, she holds records in 400 m, 800 m, 1500 m, 5000 m, Pentathlon, high jump and long jump. In 2002 and 2006 she was honoured ‘Runner of the Year’ title.
7. Jeff Float (1960 – present)
Jeffrey James Float is a former American swimmer who is known for being the first legally deaf athlete from USA to win an Olympic gold medal. He lost most of his hearing at the age of 13 months (90% deaf in his right and 65% in his left ear). Though he qualified for the 1980 Summer Olympics, he couldn’t participate as US had boycotted Olympics that year. In the 1984 Summer Olympics, Float captained the swimming team and bagged a gold medal in the men’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay. When he emerged from the pool, the crowd roared and Float said, “It was the first time I remember distinctively hearing loud cheers at a meet. I’ll never forget what 17,000 screaming people sounds like. It was incredible!”
6. Paola Fantato (1959 – present)
A former Italian archer, Fantato is the proud winner of 8 medals (5 of them being gold) at Summer Paralympics. Confined to a wheelchair since the age 8, she has a number of credits tucked in her belt. Between 1988 and 2004 she participated in the Summer Paralympic Games, five consecutive times, taking home a total of five gold medals, two bronzes, and one silver. She also won bronze in women’s individual and gold in women’s team at the 1996 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. She bagged more gold medals at the 2000 Summer Paralympics, and a gold and silver at the 2004 Paralympics.
5. Neroli Fairhall (1944 – 2006)
Neroli Susan Fairhall, a New Zealander, was the first ever paraplegic competitor to participate in the Olympic Games. Since childhood Fairhall was pretty athletic but all that came to an end after a motorbike accident that paralysed her from the waist down. She took up archery and decided to compete in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games becoming the first ever paraplegic competitor. In the 1982 Commonwealth Games, Fairhall won gold. She won a number of medals and held titles in many international tournaments.
4. Lis Hartel (1921 – 2009)
Hartel was one of the Athletes with Disabilities Who Competed in the Paralympics. At the age of 23 she suffered from polio which caused a paralysis below knee and damaged hand. She was also pregnant at the time. Despite being advised by her doctors to retire from competitive riding, Hartel participated in the Scandinavian championships in 1947. Next, by participating in the dressage, Hartel became one of the first women competing against men at the Olympics in an equestrian event. This was the first of many records Lis Hartel created. In 1992 she was honoured by being inducted into Denmark’s Hall of Fame. In the year 2005 Hartel was named one of Denmark’s top 10 athletes of all time.
3. Olivér Halassy (1909 – 1946)
Next on Athletes with Disabilities Who Competed in the Paralympics is Halassy. Halassy was a water polo player and freestyle swimmer from Hungary. He lost his left foot when he was 8-years-old. Halassy competed in the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Summer Olympics as part of the water polo team and won two gold and one silver medal. He is also the first amputee swimmer to compete in the Olympics. In 1931, he won the European champion in 1500 metres freestyle swimming. In his national career he set 12 records and won 25 swimming titles. Halassy was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1978.
2. Ildikó Újlaky-Rejtő (birth – 1937)
next one on Athletes with Disabilities Who Competed in the Paralympics, Born Ildikó Rejtő, she was a foil fencer from Hungary. Between 1960 and 1976, Rejtő won Olympic 7 medals (two gold, two bronze and three silver). In 1999, at the World Veterans Championships, Rejtő won the women’s foil competition. Currently she is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
1. George Eyser (1870 – unknown)
George Eyser was one of German-American Athletes with Disabilities Who Competed in the Paralympics who had a wooden prosthesis (left) leg, which didn’t stop him from bagging 6 Olympics medals in a single day. When he was young, Eyser legs were run over by a train. The wooden prosthesis allowed him to jump and run. Being a keen sportsman, Eyser pursued his training as a gymnast and later entered the Olympics. At the 1904 Summer Olympics, he won three gold and two silver medals. In one of the events where he participated he had to jump over a long horse without aid of a springboard.