1948 Stoke Mandeville Games – the start of the Paralympic movement

The success of the sport programs in the rehabilitation of patients with spinal injuries at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital led to the first Stoke Mandeville Games. held on 29 July 1948, the same day as the opening of the Summer Olympic Games in London. Fourteen ex-servicemen and two ex-servicewomen from Stoke Mandeville and the Star and Garter Home, a London facility for disabled servicemen where Guttmann was a medical consultant, competed in Archery.

Guttmann realised the symbolic importance of these games: “Small as it was, it was a demonstration to the public that competitive sport is not the prerogative of the able-bodied but that the severely disabled, even those with a disablement of such magnitude as spinal paraplegia, can become sportsmen and women in their own right.”

Guttmann’s vision, and the success of the 1948 event, helped ensure the continuation of the Stoke Mandeville Games as an annual event, growing eventually into the Paralympic Games we know now.

The event that was the forerunner of the Paralympic Games featured sixteen archers in a single day of competition on 29 July, 1948.