A pioneering neurologist who fled Nazi Germany for a safer life in Britain could never have dreamed that a low-key archery contest for war veterans with horrific injuries would one day become the London 2012 Paralympic Games.On July 29 1948, the same day as the opening of the last London Olympic Games, two teams of eight wheelchair-bound war veterans picked up their bows and arrows at Stoke Mandeville hospital, the victorious team collected a shield as their prize. The inspirational medic told his patients: ‘The day will come when there will be an Olympic Games for the disabled like you.ARCHERYFirst year at a Paralympic Games:Rome 1960Brief history:Archery opened the programme of the first International Games for the Disabled at Stoke Mandeville in 1948Eligible impairment groups:Physical impairments including athletes who have spinal injuries and cerebral palsy, athletes who are amputees and athletes who are classified as les autres.In Athens 2004 ParalympicsGB topped the Archery medals table as the only country to win two gold medals in the sport. In Beijing 2008 ParalympicsGB archers won four medals, two of them gold, and finished second on the medal table. Beijing 2008 saw the introduction of Compound events as a seperate discipline to Recurve in Archery – events which Britain dominated. Danielle Brown made her Paralympic debut, winning gold in the women’s Open Compound, while Mel Clarke took the bronze in the same event. John Stubbs also claimed gold in the men’s Open Compound and John Cavanagh picked up a silver in the men’s Individual Compound W1.Since 2008, British archers have performed extremely well and for London the team secured 13 places at the Paralympic Games; Britain’s best ever representation in the sport. GB archers brought home two medals this time round, with Mel Clarke and Danielle Brown shooting against each other in the final of the women’s Open Compound. In a tight competition, Brown succeeded in defending her Beijing title and took the gold while Clarke took the silver, going one better on her bronze from Beijing.
Olympic or Paralympic, archery is the perfect sport for athletes to put their accuracy and concentration to the test. In true Robin Hood style, the aim is to shoot arrows accurately at a 122cm diameter target, 70 metres away. Athletes with disabilities such as spinal injuries, cerebral palsy, amputations and Les Autres take part.
Like so many sports for disabled athletes, archery originated as a rehabilitation and recreation activity. It first appeared at the International Games for the Disabled at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1948 and at the first Paralympics in 12 years later. Since then it has always been included in the Paralympic Games competition program.
There are individual and team competitions for men and women, with athletes divided into three categories. Wheelchair athletes are classified as ARW1 (upper and lower body limitations) and ARW2 (lower body limitions), while ARST refers to athetes able to stand.
Archery is a sport in both the Olympics and Paralympics, the sport has been in the Paralympic programme since the 1960 Paralympics in Rome. However, archery was a sport that featured at the 1948 Paralympic Games at Stoke Mandeville. A fun, technical and gripping sport, the sport’s aims and regulations are similar to able bodied archery, with the aim to shoot arrows as close to the centre of the target as possible. The only difference in Paralympic archery is that the target is 70 metres away, compared to able bodied distances of up to 90 metres. Competitions consist of individual and team events, both standing and sitting