Competition at the Highest Levels

Paralympic athletes compete individually and in teams, in sports that range from biathlon and sled hockey in the Winter Games, to judo and wheelchair rugby in Summer. Learn about the many Paralympic sports: rules, top competitors, fun facts.

Winter 2014

Alpine Skiing

Racing down ski slopes at top speeds is one of the most exciting - and dangerous - winter sports. Paralympic alpine skiing traces its roots to disabled ... More »

Biathlon

Biathlon is an exciting sport that combines cross-country ski racing with target shooting. The first medal competition for Paralympic biathlon was only 20 years ago ... More »

Nordic Skiing

Cross-country ski racing first appeared at the Winter Paralympics in 1976 in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. Today the sport includes standing races, sitting events for wheelchair users ... More »

Sled Hockey

Invented by the Swedes in the 1960s, ice sled hockey joined the Paralympics at the 1994 Games in Lillehammer. More »

Wheelchair Curling

Wheelchair curling is a game that marries strategic thinking and physical skill. Everything depends on choosing – and executing – the right throw at each point in ... More »

Summer 2012

Archery

Archery was the very first Paralympic sport, played in the earliest games at Stoke Mandeville in 1948, and it has been a medal sport since ... More »

Boccia

Boccia – pronounced “BAH cha” – originated in Greece and Italy, and closely resembles the Italian game bocce. It made its Paralympic debut in the 1984 Games ... More »

Cycling

High speeds, long distances, relentless competition. In Paralympic cycling, athletes race the clock or each other -- and they race to win. Cycling is open to ... More »

Equestrian

Paralympic equestrian became a medal sport at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The rider and the horse are both considered athletes, working together to display a ... More »

Fencing

In Paralympic fencing, athletes compete in wheelchairs fastened to the floor. They duck, half-turn, and lean to avoid their opponent’s touches, but they cannot ... More »

Goalball

Goalball was invented in 1946 to help rehabilitate blind veterans from World War II. It’s one of the most competitive sports for blind and ... More »

Judo

Although judo is an ancient martial art, it was first introduced to the Paralympic Games in 1988 for men and in 2004 for women. Judo ... More »

Powerlifting

Powerlifting is an intense, muscle-heavy sport, where athletes can lift more than three times their own weight. It became part of the second Paralympics in ... More »

Rowing

Rowing had its Paralympic debut at Beijing in 2008, making it the youngest sport in the Games. The 2012 rowing will take place on a ... More »

Sailing

Paralympic sailing is a series of tough races on high, sometimes turbulent seas. It was first introduced to the Paralympics in 1996 as a demonstration ... More »

Shooting

Target shooting is popular worldwide and made its first Paralympics appearance at the 1976 Games. Paralympic shooters use exactly the same rifles, pistols, targets, ranges ... More »

Sitting Volleyball

Paralympic volleyball follows the same rules as standing volleyball, with a few modifications for the “grounded” athletes. The game is played with a six-person team ... More »

Soccer 7-a-side

Paralympic Soccer, like able-bodied soccer, is a fast, highly-skilled game. Called “Football 7-a-side” in international play, the sport made its Paralympic debut in 1984 and ... More »

Swimming

Paralympic swimming, like track and field, has dozens of events. Freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, and breaststroke swimmers knife through the water -- completely unaided by any prostheses ... More »

Table Tennis

Athletes from over 100 countries compete in table tennis, one of the most popular Paralympic sports. It was introduced in the first Paralympic Games in ... More »

Track and Field

The most complicated of all the competition categories, track and field – called “Athletics” internationally – is actually multiple sports: sprints, relay races, long jumps, javelin throws ... More »

Wheelchair Basketball

Wheelchair basketball is one of the biggest draws at the Paralympic Games. The game is played five-on-five, on standard-sized courts with standard, 10-foot hoops. The ... More »

Wheelchair Rugby

Wheelchair or “quad” rugby is an aggressive, full-contact sport that often lives up to its nickname: murderball. It’s one of the roughest, most competitive ... More »

Wheelchair Tennis

Wheelchair tennis was created in 1976 by American Brad Parks. Parks didn’t just invent wheelchair tennis -- he also won gold the first year tennis ... More »