The 2012 Paralympic Games are set to kick off tomorrow evening in London. The 14th Paralympic Games will host around 4,200 athletes from 166 countries, including over 200 athletes from the U.S. Many of the U.S. athletes competing are military veterans who lost limbs or sustained other injuries during their service.
Tonight a 24-hour torch relay will begin the countdown to the opening of the games. The Paralympic Flame will be carried by torches 92 miles through English communities. 116 teams of five people will carry the torch to its destination at the opening ceremony in Stoke Mandevill Stadium tomorrow evening. The torches will originate from the four highest mountain peaks in Scotland, Wales, England, and Northern Ireland.
The London 2012 Paralympic Games will run from tomorrow until September 9 and will use many of the same venues that the London 2012 Olympic Games did. Many of the sports featured in the Paralympic Games are also the same as those in the Olympics, including, archery, equestrian, judo, powerlifting, rowing, and swimming. Special equipment is often used by Paralympic athletes when competing, and some sports, such as sitting volleyball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair basketball are unique to the Paralympic Games.
The Summer Paralympics began in 1960 with the first games held in Rome. The Paralympic Games are held immediately following the Olympic Games, and Winter Paralympic Games began in 1976. Paralympic athletes compete in categories specific to their impairment, including limb deficiency or loss, ataxia, visual impairment, short stature, and intellectual impairment.
Sports fans can watch the 2012 Paralympic Games from the Paralympics website, which will stream five different channels of live Paralympics coverage. Check out the preview video of the games below, which look every bit as exciting as this year’s Olympic Games.