Home ] Biography ] Journal ] Tandem Partners ] Schedule & Race Results ] [ The Paralympics ] Contact Matt ] Kim's Column ] Press Highlights ] Sponsors ] Want to Help? ] Photos ] Questions & Answers ] Guest Book ] Behind the Scenes ] Links ] Store ] Bikes for sale ]



What is the Paralympics?

History of the Paralympics

Tandem racing at the 2004 Paralympic Games

Read and learn about how 2004 Athens Paralympic Games medals are designed

The 2004 Paralympic Games Mascot - Proteas

Paralympic Firsts will take place in Athens 

What is the U.S. Paralympics?

United States Association of Blind Athletes

Vision Classifications

Difference between the Paralympics and the Special Olympics


What is the Paralympic Games?

The Paralympic Games are the second largest sporting event in the world, conceding top honors only to the Olympics. The multi-sport competition showcases the talents and abilities of the world's most elite athletes with physical disabilities.  More than 4,000 athletes and 1,500 media representatives from 140 countries will participate in the 2004 Summer Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece. The 2004 Paralympic Games  will be held September 17 - 28. 

The Paralympic Games are run under the auspices of the International Paralympic Committee.  The U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Paralympics oversees the USA Paralympic Team by selecting the elite athletes for international competition while delegating authority to various disabled sports organizations. The United States will have approximately 300 delegates in Athens, Greece.

History of the Paralympic Games

Sir Ludwig Guttman, the “father” of sport for people with a disability, created the Paralympic Games. While working with ex-servicemen at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital after World War II, Guttman recognized the need for competition and staged the 1948 International Wheelchair Games to coincide with the 1948 London Olympic Games.  The event grew gradually encompassing other sports and other disability categories.  

In 1960 the first Paralympic Games were held in Rome, Italy and consisted largely of disabled war veterans with physical disabilities, and in particular, for persons with a spinal cord injury.  Four hundred athletes form 23 countries competed in a limited selection of events.  

The Vth International Games, organized in 1976, included other disabilities: blind and amputees. In 1980, in Arnhem, the Netherlands, athletes with cerebral palsy joined the Games. Since that time, the Games have been held every four years to coincide with the Olympic Games.

Since 1988, the Paralympics have been conducted in the same venues as the Olympics, just after the Olympic games close.





1960 I. Rome, Italy 400 athletes from 23 countries
1964 II. Tokyo, Japan 390 athletes from 22 countries
1968 III. Tel Aviv, Israel 750 athletes from 29 countries
1972 IV. Heidelberg, Germany 1000 athletes from 44 countries
1976 V. Toronto, Canada 1600 athletes from 42 countries
1980 VI. Arnhem, Netherlands 2500 athletes from 42 countries
1984 VII. Stoke Mandeville, UK
New York, USA
4080 athletes from 42 countries
1988 VIII. Seoul, Korea 3053 athletes from 61 countries
1992 IX. Barcelona, Spain 3020 athletes from 82 countries
1996 X. Atlanta, USA 3195 athletes from 103 countries
2000 XI. Sydney, Australia 3843 athletes from 123 countries

Blaze, 1996 Paralympic Mascot

Lizzie, 2000 Paralympic Mascot

Tandem racing at the 2004 Paralympic Games (Paralympic Race Schedule)

Since the international governing body for the sport of cycling (the UCI) removed tandem cycling from its world championships in 1994, the Paralympics have become the premier world-class international competition opportunity for tandem cyclists. Elite sighted road and track cyclists may pursue this path toward a world championship in tandem cycling by teaming up with a blind athlete.

The Paralympic Games Cycling programme includes two disciplines: Road Cycling and Track Cycling. Road Cycling races take place on public highways, while the Track Cycling races take place on tracks, or in other words, a velodrome. Although the rules and regulations governing the sport are the same as those for the Olympic Cycling, in certain cases modifications to the bicycles are allowed in order to facilitate athletes with specific disabilities.

Athletes with partial or total vision impairment, celebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, amputees or any other permanent physical deficiency can participate in Cycling. The athletes are classified into categories based on their functional abilities together with the skills required for the sport. The athletes’ bicycles are modified, whenever considered necessary, according to the athletes’ needs.

Track Cycling events will be held in the Olympic Velodrome at the Athens Olympic Sports Complex (OAKA), within five competition days, September 18-22, 2004. Road Cycling events will be held in Vouliagmeni, within the span of three competition days, from September 24-26, 2004.

Read and learn about how 2004 Athens Paralympic Games medals are designed

The Paralympic Games medals are one of the most important design applications, since the medals is given to the athletes, the real protagonists and heroes of the Paralympic Games as a reward for their achievements.

The medals for the Athens Paralympic Games were presented on September 17 2003. ATHENS 2004 aim was to modify both sides of the medal so that it includes Greek elements. The aim was to propose a design for the medal of the 2004 Paralympic Games that would reflect the visual identity of the Paralympic Games and would remind athletes of Greece, the country that hosted them.

On one side the ATHENS 2004 Paralympic emblem expresses the strength and determination of all Paralympic athletes and appears together with the words “ATHENS 2004” in Braille.


The challenge for the other side was to select a landmark of Athens that would be characteristic and universally recognised.

The Acropolis, with the temple of Parthenon, is the most recognisable landmark, a symbol of the city, which is acknowledged as the birthplace of democracy and the cradle of modern civilisation.  Τhe Acropolis represents in the best possible way the unique historical and cultural environment where the ATHENS 2004 Paralympic Games will be hosted.

This medal will be an inspiration for all athletes to go to the limit, to outdo themselves and achieve the highest distinction in Athens in 2004.

The design of the medal was created by Constantinos Kazakos.


The 2004 Paralympic Games Mascot - Proteas
The mascot creator searched for an image that would portray the four unique values for the ATHENS 2004 Paralympic Games: inspiration, strength, pursuit, celebration. At the same time, the creator wanted the mascot to express the unique flavour that hosting the Paralympic Games in Greece would bring to the event.

The creator found what he was looking for in the image of the sea. The sea has been a core element of Hellenic culture, its representations embracing a huge variety of applications and connotations, from peace and tranquility to passion and strength. The sea element has provided the Greek mythology with numerous gods and characters, as well as a series of heroes who have managed to overcome human limitations and offer thrilling moments and narrations with their achievements.

The mascot for the 2004 Paralympic Games is a sea – horse (hippocampus) named Proteas, from a divinity of the Greek mythology. The name embraces the notion of excellence that is a core notion of the Paralympic Games, as the athletes seek to overcome themselves in achieving even higher competition performances. The Greek word “protos” means first in rank, excellent.

Please welcome Proteas, the mascot for the ATHENS 2004 Paralympic Games. Proteas will be an ideal ambassador of the Athens Paralympic Games around the world and will inspire everyone to take part in this elite sport event, hosted for the very first time in Athens in September 2004.

Common visual elements between Paralympic and Olympic mascots. Proteas presents the following common visual elements with Phivos and Athena, the Olympic Games mascots:

The same fine lines apply to all three mascots’ design:
 Their names are written using the same typography, which has been designed especially for the mascot names
They all bear the ATHENS 2004 brand names and the distinctive elements of the event they promote (IOC emblem for the Olympic Games, IPC emblem for the Paralympic Games)
Their names have been inspired from Greek mythology and heritage


Paralympic Firsts will take place in Athens 

For the first time, the Olympic and Paralympic summer Games will be organised by a single Organising Committee after the signing of the IOC – IPC Cooperation Agreement.

· It is the first time women will compete in Judo in the Paralympic Games.

· For the first time Football 5-a-side will be contested at the Paralympic Games.

· It is the first time that women teams will compete in Volleyball (Sitting).

· Handcycling will take place for the first time at the ATHENS 2004 Paralympic Games

Referenced from: http://www.athens2004.com/en/ParalympicFirsts/paralympicfirsts

20004 Athens Paralympic Games - Facts & Figures

  • Almost 50 Broadcasters were present in Athens (new record).
  • The total number of tickets sold for Athens 2004 Paralympic Games was almost 800.000.
  • More than 3.200 Media representatives were accredited for the Paralympic Games.
  • A record of 136 nations (new record, breaking Sydney's of 123) participated in Athens Paralympic Games.
  • The total number of athletes in the Paralympic Games was 3.969 (2.763 men and 1.206 women).
  • The Greek athletes were 135.
  • In Sydney the athletes were 3.843 and the participated nations were 123.
  • 680 torchbearers carried the Paralympic Flame in a 410-kilometre journey through 54 municipalities of Attica.
  • China won 141 medals (63 gold, 46 silver, 32 bronze), topping the final medal standings, which featured a total of 75 nations.
  • Greece won 20 medals (3 gold, 13 silver, 4 bronze), 9 more than in the Sydney Paralympic Games.
  • The top multi-medallist in the Athens Paralympic Games was swimmer Mayumi NARITA (JPN), with 7 gold and one bronze medals.
  • 304 World Records and 448 Paralympic Records were broken in Athens.
  • More than 600 doping tests have been conducted in the Athens Paralympic Games--seven of them positive.
  • 19 Paralympic sports were held in the Athens Paralympic Games, at 20 Paralympic Venues.


What is the U.S. Paralympics?

U.S. Paralympics, a division of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), was created in May 2001 to focus efforts on enhancing programs, funding and opportunities for persons with physical disabilities to participate in Paralympic sport.

The U.S. Olympic Committee is a non-profit tax-exempt organization based in Colorado Springs, Colo. The USOC works with more than 50 member organizations to provide programs and services to develop athletes and coaches that one day dream of participating in the Olympic, Paralympic and Pan Am Games and to promote the Olympic and Paralympic ideals throughout the United States.

The U.S. Paralympics mission is to be the world leader in the Paralympic movement by developing comprehensive and sustainable elite programs integrated into National Governing Bodies. To utilize our Olympic and Paralympic platform to promote excellence in the lives of persons with disabilities. For more information contact US Paralympics, One Olympic Plaza Colorado Springs CO  80909, telephone:  719-866-2030 or fax at 719-866-2029 website: http:/www.usparalympics.org Charlie Huebner, Chief Executive Officer at 719-866-2032 or e-mail Charlie Huebner charlie.huebner@usoc.org

The disabled sports organizations foster development opportunities. The five disabled sports organizations (dso's) in the United States are the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA), United States Cerebral Palsy Athletic Association (USCPAA), Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA), U.S. Wheelchair Athletic Association (WSUSA), and Dwarf Athletic Association of America (DAAA).

United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA)

United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) offers athletic opportunities to individuals who are blind and visually impaired. For more information contact USABA at 33 North Institute , Colorado Springs CO 80903 telephone: 719-630-0422 or fax: 719-630-0616 e-mail: usaba@iex.net website: http://www.usaba.org/ or contact Mark Lucas, Executive Director via e-mail at mlucas@usaba.org

Vision Classifications

There are three visual classifications set forth by the International Blind Sports Association:  

B1 Athlete (totally blind, no more than light perception) 

B2 Athlete (best vision is 20/600)

B3 Athlete (best vision is 20/200)   

Ask the average person what it means to be blind, they might clap their hands over their eyes, not being able to see anything. Only about ten percent of the legally blind population is actually completely blind.  Most legally blind people have some degree of functional vision.   

Matt fits into the vision classification B1, to put Matt's visual acuity in lay terms, he can see no more than light perception. Matt was born blinded by retinitis pigmentosa (RP), an inherited incurable eye disease that gradually destroys the retina and optic nerve.

Difference between Special Olympics and Paralympics

Many people confuse the Special Olympics and the Paralympics, although the two are separate events with very different objectives. The Special Olympics provides an opportunity for athletes with mental and cognitive impairments to compete in an event whose focus is on participation.  Everyone is welcome to take part and all are considered winners and receive prizes.  Paralympic athletes are elite competitors who must qualify for their competitions along similar guidelines as their Olympic counterparts.  Medals are awarded only to the winners.


Team King
Telephone: 719.339.1557

updated 09/28/2004
Copyright © 2000 Team King All Rights Reserved

US Paralympics

US Paralympics