Women at the Paralympics – facts, figures and names to watch out for
WVoN Paralympics Editor
Here we go again! With the applause still ringing in our ears from the London 2012 Olympics, we’re all back to be stirred once again by exceptional athletic feats, this time by the Paralympians, over the next nine days.
The facts and figures pertaining to female competitors make interesting, and encouraging, reading.
More women than ever before will be competing at these games.
1,513 women will be competing in 18 different sports. Only 5-a-side and 7-a-side football are solely male events.
The total number of competitors is rising all the time with numbers having doubled since the 1992 games in Barcelona.
Of the teams with over 50 members, Mexico has the biggest percentage of women with 55.56%. Iran has the least, with males making up 92.41% of the team.
Countries are not subject to the same rules on equality as the Olympic Games, although the participation of women is a hot topic. There are a number of teams with only one competitor. Of these, 40 have a lone male competitor while only 5 have a lone female.
The development of women’s Paralympic sport can be largely put down to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Women in Sport Committee.
It was formed 10 years ago to address the issue of gender equity within the Paralympic Movement. It aims to “advocate and advise on the strategies and policies to obtain the full inclusion of women and girls at all levels of Paralympic sport and the Paralympic Movement and identify barriers that restrict participation, recommend policies and initiatives to increase participation.”
Tine Teilman, Chair of the IPC Women in Sport Committee, commented:
“I am sure we will see many sportswomen through inspiring and exciting performances become strong role models for others. The growing number of female participants is also essential to secure equal sporting opportunities at the Games.”
Stars new and old will shine at these Games.
In the swimming, watch out for Jessica Long (USA) who won six medals at Beijing including four golds, Natalie Du Toit (South Africa), already with 10 Paralympic golds to her name and Ellie Simmonds (GB) who came away from Beijing with two golds and is favourite for more. In wheelchair tennis, Esther Vergeer (Netherlands) will be a strong contender in both singles and doubles. In the team events keep an eye on the three Chinese table tennis teams and the American goalball team.
I could name so many more, but whatever you watch, you won’t fail to be inspired.