The Paralympic Games, which now take place following Olympic Games at the same location, is a multi-sport event involving athletes with a range of disabilities, including blind/vision impairment, impaired muscle power, impaired passive range of movement, limb deficiency , leg length difference, short stature, hypertonia, ataxia and intellectual impairment.The Paralympic Games are governed by the International Paralympic Committee where Ireland is represented by Paralympics Ireland.
Vision Sports Ireland
Vision Sports Ireland holds two voting memberships of Paralympics Ireland: general and blind football. Aside from blind football, judo and goalball are the two other Paralympic sports governed by Vision Sports at this level.
While the Paralympics have been running since 1960 in Rome categories for blindness were first introduced in 1976 in Montreal. Four years later Ireland’s first blind/vision impaired athletes – Pat and Martin Kelly – became Ireland’s first blind/vision impaired representatives.43 blind/vision impaired competitors have represented Ireland in six sports – athletics, tandem cycling, swimming, triathlon, judo and equestrian - since 1980.
Irish Paralympic Success
In medal terms eight gold medals have been won: Jason Smyth (5), Carol Carr, Bridie Lynch, Katie George Dunlevy, one apiece. In addition, 12 silver and 17 bronze medals have been achieved by blind /vision impaired athletes.
The Road to the Paralympic Games
The road to representing Ireland at Paralympic Games, while leading to a never-to-be-forgotten lifetime achievement, may be tough and challenging as standards are at the highest level. Nevertheless, 43 of our athletes have achieved the goal and many more will.