If, in the past, people doubted the athletic abilities of Paralympic athletes today, this has all changed. By all means, these individuals are highly professional, elite athletes who devote their lives to sports. In adaptive sports, the purpose is to accept individuals’ specific body dysfunction and to adapt and modify the sports accordingly. In Paralympic settings, types of sports are being altered and developed according to athletes’ abilities.
The definition of an athlete is an individual who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise. In Paralympic sports, physical and cognitive abilities are not measured based on the general population but, instead, are developed specifically for this unique group of people. For example, goalball is a sport designed for visually impaired individuals. The ball and the court lines provide hearing and tactile sensory information cues to compensate for the lack of visual input.
Pushing oneself to the limit is also a great example of describing elite athletes, which is a trend exhibited by the Paralympic athletes as well—individuals performing unbelievable sports skills and setting new boundaries that redefine human abilities. In essence, Paralympic sports represent the modern realm of human ability and endurance, which integrates technology, cognitive behavior, and physical abilities.
The use of technology changes the sports world, specifically in adaptive and disability sports. It has opened a new window for individuals who were not capable of participating in any activity to become elite athletes. Advanced hi-tech prosthetics are now more developed than ever before, and they can mimic almost entirely the biomechanics of the leg or the arm. The new models of leg prosthetics allow the performer to create motion in all movement plans, which also enable the performer to run and jump faster and higher.
In wheelchair tennis, the chair becomes the legs of the athlete; tennis is a high-speed game, which requires quick direction changing. Thus, the chair must exhibit speed, agility, durability, and balance during movement. Each chair is custom-made and based on individual measurement and level of function. A proper wheelchair designed for tennis can cost up to $20,000. Moreover, each sport has its own and unique gear that fits the sport. For example, other wheelchair sports, such as basketball, require a different standard of wheelchairs.
In the Paralympic games, 28 sports types are competing – 22 in the summer and 6 in the winter. Sports types can range from individuals sports, like archery and athletics, or group sports, such as football and ice hockey. Cheering and supporting such an event are important, and the positive impact goes beyond the world of sports. It can have a global effect on multiple communities at various physical and cognitive levels. Promoting physical and social participation for a population that is generally less visible to everyday people is honorable and can demonstrate the true practice of equality.