On the same day as opening ceremony of the Olympic Games London 1948 a sports event was being held north of the English capital in a village near the town of Aylesbury called Stoke Mandeville. As a sports event it was nothing special. There were two ‘teams’ comprising 14 men and 2 women, all former military personnel.

In their own way they were competing in ‘parallel’ to that larger event even though in only one sport, archery. However there was a marked difference between the two sets of competitors. The Stoke Mandeville athletes were competing in the cumbersome wheelchairs of the day, as they had all suffered some form of traumatic spinal injury.

Then in 1949 six ‘teams’ made the journey to Stoke Mandeville to compete in three sports including net‐ball, which caused some consternation years later from visiting international teams who came expecting basketball and backboards and found only a pole and net. In his closing speech the founder of this embryo movement, in front of a significant group of VIPS declared that the event would grow in

‘world fame as the disabled men and women’s equivalent of the Olympic Games’.

Read the full story on the 15th August in the SASAPD Sport Magazine

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