Tennis is one of the world’s most popular sports. Its adapted format differs mainly with specially designed wheelchairs (sometimes manual and sometimes powered), as well as the ball being allowed to bounce twice.
The size of the court, the equipment (racket and ball) are just the same as in their Olympic namesake, as are the rest of the rules. In fact, the four Grand Slams all host wheelchair tennis as part of their official competitions.
24 years ago, I was unlucky to be involved in a five-car road accident that left seven people injured, I being the most injured. It left me in shock initially since I did not know how much the accident had affected me. I was seated in the back seat when it all happened, and I thought, “Why not get out and give a hand to the others.” With my experience in the medical field from working as a Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Technician, I thought I could lend a helping hand. Summoning all my energy, I tried to get out of the car but I could not move. I felt a sharp pain through my chest and I blacked out, I can barely remember what happened thereafter. What I can recollect from the hours that followed is that the company I worked with were the first on the scene and we knew each other. Upon arrival at the hospital, I was in and out of it for a while but what I remember clearly as the light of day was when the doctor said that I would never walk again. I was diagnosed as a C6-C7 quadriplegic which meant that the 8 months that followed were going to be spent in hospital and in rehabilitation centres.
The Paralympic summer games is not the only sport event worth watching – the winter games are equally exciting. Since 1976, they are held after the Olympic Winter Games. Para-skiing was the first discipline that was introduced. Throughout the years, the following sports were recognized as a Paralympic sport: para biathlon, para ice hockey, wheelchair curling, and para snowboard. Since these games are relatively young, the disciplines regularly change. For example, in the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, bobsleigh has been announced to be a new discipline.
Raising a child is a huge and challenging responsibility. When that child has a physical or intellectual disability the challenges can seem even greater. Children with disabilities may have special educational needs, or require specialist equipment or support. Parents or carers of these children may need additional practical and emotional support to help to cope with their child’s demands.
Getting to know families in similar situations can provide an important support network, enabling parents and carers to share help and advice and to lend an understanding ear when discussing the unique challenges of their situation.
Besides improving physical form, playing sports has a positive influence on psychological development and mood, which undoubtedly favours quality of life. This, coupled with the proliferation and formalisation of specific associations, federations and regulations, makes adapted sports more and more attractive among people with disabilities, who can practice them from amateur levels to competitive levels.