/ (ˌpærəˈlɪmpɪən) /
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a competitor in the Paralympics
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012


What does Paralympian mean?

A Paralympian is an athlete who competes (or has competed) in the Paralympic Games (sometimes called the Paralympics), an international athletic competition featuring multiple sporting events between competitors with a range of bodily differences and disabilities. The word is often capitalized, but not always.

The Paralympics is modeled after the Olympic Games (in which competitors are called Olympians) and features the world’s top athletes in their sports, with the top three finishers in each event being awarded medals: gold for first place, silver for second place, and bronze for third place. Like the Olympics, there are Winter and Summer versions of the Paralympics, and they are usually held after the corresponding Olympic event in the same city. Some athletes have competed in both the Olympics and the Paralympics—making them both Olympians and Paralympians.

The Winter Paralympics feature Paralympians competing in winter sports, including skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey, and many others. The Summer Paralympics feature traditionally warm weather and indoor sports, like track and field, swimming, and wheelchair basketball, among many others.

Eligibility for and competition in the Paralympics is based on categories that involve bodily differences and different types of disabilities, including those related to muscle power and movement, range of movement, limb differences, visual impairment, and intellectual disabilities.

The word Paralympian is also sometimes used as an adjective, as in Paralympian events.

Where does Paralympian come from?

The Para in Paralympics and Paralympian comes from the word parallel—another name for the Paralympic Games is the Parallel Olympics.

The Paralympic Games trace their origin to the opening of the 1948 Olympic Games in London, during which an archery tournament was held among former British soldiers in wheelchairs. The event was named the Stoke Mandeville Games after the name of a hospital that treated patients with spinal injuries. The event was hosted periodically until 1960, when it officially became the Paralympic Games and was hosted alongside the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. The event has taken place every four years since. The Winter Paralympics were established in 1976.

What are some terms that often get used in discussing Paralympians?

How are Paralympians discussed in real life?

Paralympians are elite athletes competing at the highest level in a range of different sports.

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True or False?

Some Paralympians have also competed in the Olympics.