It takes more than being an exceptional sportsman or woman to become part of the Olympics or Paralympics. This is why both games come with a set of core values which encompass what these competitions are all about proving that sport even at this level, is not just about your ability.
The Olympic Values are
- respect – fair play; knowing one’s own limits; and taking care of one’s health and the environment
- excellence – how to give the best of oneself, on the field of play or in life; taking part; and progressing according to one’s own objectives
- friendship – how, through sport, to understand each other despite any differences
The Paralympic games began life as a sports competition involving World War II veterans, with serious back injuries, in Stoke Mandeville, England. Following this initial competition, international attention grew as competitors from overseas, beginning with athletes from The Netherlands, added strength to the idea until the first official Olympic style games for athletes with a disability were organised in Rome in 1960. It was not until Toronto 1976, however, that other disability groups were added along with a broader spectrum of disciplines. It was here that the picture that is the modern Paralympic games began to emerge alongside the first Paralympic Winter Games which took place in Sweden on the same year.
The Paralympic Values are based on the history of the Paralympic Games and the tradition of fair play and honourable sports competition. Some say that in this particular competition the values are even more important than in any other.
The Paralympic Values are:
- Determination – the drive and motivation to overcome both physical and mental barriers in order to achieve your goals.
- Courage – having the self-belief and confidence to overcome adversity and face difficulty.
- Equality – showing respect and humility towards all those around you in the spirit of fair play.
- Inspiration – to be motivated by the achievements and actions of others and to be a positive example to others.