2012 London Paralympics for Disabled People: Jewish Doctor Ludwig Guttmann Held First Events
This year's Paralympics in London is somewhat of a homecoming for the event as the idea of in international sporting event for disabled people traces its roots to a hospital close to London where a Jewish doctor Ludwig Guttmann first launched a sporting competition for people with spinal injuries. In 1917 Guttmann was a volunteer in an Accident Hospital for Coalminers in Germany where seeing men with spinal injuries gave the young doctor a life-long passion that such injuries need not be a death sentence. Guttman eventually fled Nazi Germany to the United Kingdom and during World War II he was asked to set up a spinal care unit at Stoke Mandeville hospital, 100km from London to help returning war veterans. In 1948 Guttmann organized an archery competition for 16 patients which he then repeated every year. In 1952, the games became international when a team of Dutch former soldiers was included and eventually the Paralympics became recognized as a sister event of the main Olympics on 1988. Guttmann was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1966 and died of heart failure in 1980. A status of Guttmann will be present at every Paralympics, which this year will bring together over 4000 disabled people given a chance to showcase their talents through the vision of one of history's unsung heroes.