Fast Facts - Become an Instant Expert!

Did you know:

  • The word ParalympicsGames held in parallel (or beside) the Olympic Games for athletes with disabilities. means running ‘parallel’ or alongside the Olympics.
  • The first Paralympic Games was held in 1960 in Rome, Italy.
  • The six disabilityA Disability is generally a condition either caused by accident, trauma, genetics or disease, which may restrict a person's mental processes, senses or mobility. groups are: amputees, cerebral palsyA disorder of movement and posture due to damage to an area of the brain that controls and coordinates muscle tone, reflexes, posture and movement. "Cerebral" mean brain-centred; "palsy" is a lack of muscle control., intellectual disabilityIndividuals who have limitations in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behaviour., Les Autresis French for 'others'. It is a term used to describe athletes with a range of conditions which result in locomotor disorders that do not fit the traditional classification systems of the established disability group, eg dwarfism, polio, MS (or the others), Vision ImpairedThis refers to any group condition which interferes with 'normal' vision. This incorporates the entire range of vision difficulties, from correctable conditions through to total blindness., WheelchairThis refers to a group of athletes with a disability who are eligible to compete in wheelchair events. Some of the conditions resulting in eligibility into wheelchair events are: paraplegia, quadriplegia, spina bifida, poliomyelitis, amputee, cerebral palsy..
  • The next Summer Paralympics will be held in LondonHome of the 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games., Great Britain from 29 August to 9 September 2012.  Australia hopes to make the top three in the overall medal count.
  • The next Winter ParalympicsThe games held in parallel (or beside) the Winter Olympics where Alpine Skiing, Ice Sledge Hockey, Nordic Skiing and Wheelchair Curling are contested. will be held in Sochi, Russia in 2014.
  • 20% of Australians have a disability. Due to population growth and ageing, the number of people with disabilities is rising.
  • 70% of Australians know someone with a disability.
  • Australia has sent a team to every Paralympic Summer Games since the first in Rome, 1960 and every Winter Games since the first in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, 1976.
  • Australian Archer Ross Sutton won the very first Paralympic Gold medal on offer at the Rome Games.
  • Australia won its first Winter Paralympic medal in 1992 and has medalled at each Winter Games since then.
  • Australia topped the medal tally at the Sydney 2000Home of the 2000 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. Paralympic Games, winning a historic 149 medals.
  • 57% of Australians followed the success of the Australian Paralympic Team in Athens.
  • Television and newspapers are the preferred media used by people to follow the Games.
  • 93% of Australians believe that Paralympic athletes are elite athletes who train as hard as able-bodiedA person with no physical disability athletes and 87% believe they should receive the same or more funding than Olympic athletes.
  • 71% of Australians would like to know more about the personal stories of the Paralympic Athletes and 72% think Paralympians do not receive the recognition they deserve in the media.



2008 BeijingHome of the 2008 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. Paralympic Games - Australian Team Fast Facts


  • Australia competed in 13 of the 20 sports.
  • Australia took a team of 291 - athletes and staff.
  • There were 170 athletes including 11 guide runners and pilots for vision-impaired athletes, and 121 officials.
  • Of the 159 athletes, 87 were men (55%) and 72 were women (45%). In Athens in 2004, 61% of the Australian team were men and 39% were women.
  • It was a bigger team than in Athens (143 athletes, 87 officials) but smaller than the team for Sydney (278 athletes and 157 officials).
  • 27 athletes in the 2008 team were identified in the Toyota Paralympic Talent Search ProgramAn initiative of the APC to identify potential Paralympians. - an Australian Government-funded initiative run by the APCAustralian Paralympic Committee - The governing body for Paralympic sport in Australia., and supported by Toyota.
  • It cost $3.5million to take the team to Beijing in 2008. Athens cost $3million.



Youngest Team Member:


Madison De Rozario (WA) - born 24th November 1993. (Athletics)

Oldest Team Member:


Elizabeth Kosmala (SA) - born 8th July 1942. (Shooting)
Nine Previous Games (1972-2004), 9 Gold & 3 Silver, + 1 time as Team Official (1968).


Other facts to note:


  • 95 athletes attended their first Paralympic Games
  • 36 athletes attended their second Paralympic Games
  • 22 athletes attended their third Paralympic Games
  • 7 athletes attended their fourth Paralympic Games
  • 3 athletes attended their fifth Paralympic Games
  • 6 athletes attended their sixth Paralympic Games
  • 1 athlete attended their tenth Paralympic Games


Athletes From Each State


ACT        17
NSW      37
NT            1
QLD        34
SA           17
TAS          1
VIC         45
WA         18


Australia's Paralympic Record


  • Australia won 79 medals in Beijing (23 gold, 29 silver, 27 bronze), finishing fifth on the total medal tally behind China, Great Britain, Canada, Ukraine and the USA.
    • Australia  won their 1000th Paralympic medal in Beijing.


Fast Facts - ClassificationAthletes are classified by classifiers into classes by their ability to function. The aim is to ensure that athletes of similar ability compete against one another.


  • Not all people with disabilities can compete in Paralympic Games or compete in every event. 
  • Athletes wishing to compete need to be classified and allocated a class.
  • Classes vary from sport to sport.
  • Each sport has a trained   who’s job it is to work out what class an athlete should be in.
  • This is done by the athlete carrying out some exercises which will test their speed, strength, endurance and flexibility.

See more detailed information on classification here: What is Classification?