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Disabled people in sports

Emma Needel looks at the benefits and advantages of sport for people with disabilities.

Disabled people can participate in the disabled equivalent of many sports, such as basketball, swimming, athletics, or football, ranging from international to entry-level competitions. Most disabled people are advised to take part in sport as it will raise their self-confidence, improve their abilities, and enable them to interact with others in a similar situation.

There is a sport for every disabled person, whether professional or just for fun. Those who cannot participate in physical sport because of their impairment are encouraged to help with the coaching staff or team management. A disabled person is entitled to a monthly allowance and should contact the Disability Living Allowance Guide Registered Office for further information.

Sports for the disabled

Sports for the disabled are divided into three categories: those for the deaf, those for people with physical abilities, and those for the intellectually disabled. Some sports, however, such as wheelchair basketball, weightlifting, and wheelchair dancing, are not so formal and can be practiced by any disabled person.

Major disability sports events are the Paralympic Games, held every four years; the Deaflympics; the Special Olympics for those with intellectual disabilities; and the Disability Commonwealth Games.

Benefits and advantages of sports to the disabled

Sports may be important for everyone, but it is even more important for the disabled to participate in sport. This is because it will help their rehabilitation and teach them how to be independent. Team sports are especially advantageous as they develop social skills that lead to new friendships, which boosts the self-confidence of the disabled.

Sport also greatly improves health and reduces the anxiety and depression some disabled people may suffer from. Sport has been proven to boost self-esteem, reduce the risk of catching a chronic disease, and increase the chances of employment.

Famous disabled sportspeople

Kyle Maynard was born with arms that end at the elbows, but he has managed to wrestle for one of the best teams in the world and is currently fighting with able-bodied fighters in the mixed martial arts fighting category. Despite his disability, he became the first to crawl to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak.

Another enduring sports personality is Natalie Du Toit, a South African female swimmer who competed with non-disabled athletes in the Beijing summer Olympics. In 2003, she set swimming history by becoming the first swimmer to win gold in the 800m able-bodied freestyle event at the All-Africa Games. She went on to win five gold medals at the Paralympics in Athens in 2004.

Oscar Pistorius is a champion sprinter who has broken his athletic records 30 times. He was the first disabled sprinter to compete with non-disabled runners in the Olympic Games. He currently dominates Paralympic events, regularly winning gold medals in 400m, 200m, and 100m. Oscar also helps other disabled people with his contributions to the Life Without Limitations movement.

Page Reference

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  • NEEDEL, E. (2013) Disabled people in sports [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Emma Needel, from the UK, is interested in writing articles and has been a blogger for the past two years. She is currently researching the disability living allowance that is benefited by the disabled when they are unable to work or are dependent on others for assistance. More information or the Disability living allowance contact can be found on her website.