31 August 2012
In 1943, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann was asked by the Government to establish a Spinal Injuries Unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. The Unit was intended to treat soldiers and civilians injured during World War II. As part of his treatment for the injured veterans, Guttmann promoted different methods of rehabilitation, including sport.
On 29th July 1948, Guttmann organised an archery demonstration to coincide with the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games. For this demonstration, sixteen patients competed against each other for a Challenge Shield. Successive Games added more teams and more sports; in 1949 six teams competed and ‘wheelchair netball’ (later wheelchair basketball) were introduced.
Guttmann’s creation of the Stoke Mandeville Games in 1948 was the moment that the Paralympic movement was born.
Stoke Mandeville Stadium opened in 1969and has developed dramatically since it was first built. The stadium has recently hosted a number of events that have included the Under 22 European Wheelchair Basketball Championships, as well as events that WheelPower (the national charity for wheelchair sport) have organised such as the Junior and Youth camps and also the Inter Spinal Youth Games. The Stadium has also helped athletes from around the world prepare for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
WheelPower as a charity has been established for over 60years. As the national charity for Wheelchair sport WheelPower has provided unique opportunity for sport to be used for Rehabilitation, recreation and competition.
Stoke Mandeville Stadium will host the Paralympic Flame Lighting Ceremony on the 28th August 2012. The prestigious event will see four Flames from London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast come together to make one fantastic flame that will then continue on a 24hour relay to the Paralympic Opening Ceremony in London.
Martin McElhatton Chief Executive for WheelPower stated, “the opportunity to have this exciting event at our stadium is a honour and a privilege. With the interest we have seen from not only the public but also media and influential delegates I am sure that the night is going to be one that will be remembered for a long time to come.”
For more information on WheelPower visit www.wheelpower.org.uk
Blog by Jess Cooper,WheelPower
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