We are officially less than one month away from the 2016 Paralympics in Rio! As the clock winds down to the opener, we will continue our “Road to Rio Series”, where we highlight the many sports that people from the wheelchair-using community can watch and get involved in.
While sports such as wheelchair tennis and wheelchair rugby (also known as Murderball) are some of the more well-known events, we have been seeking out information on some of the less well-known paralympic sports.
The sports that we have already covered include:
Today’s Focus: Wheelchair Table Tennis
Table tennis was created sometime in the 19th century by aristocratic families in Great Britain, who originally called it wiff-waff. Back then, cigar boxes were used as rackets and books were used as a makeshift net. The International Table Tennis Federation
(ITTF) was eventually established in 1926.
Table tennis has been a paralympic sport since the 1960 games in Rome, Italy. Non-wheelchair users began competing in the 1976 Toronto games. There are currently 29 medal events in the sport, with players competing either individually or in pairs.
Participating athletes are divided into the following categories:
- TT1 to TT5 – sitting players
- TT6 to TT10 – standing players
- TT11 – standing players with an intellectual impairment
The rules are exactly the same as Olympic Table Tennis, with only slight changes made during serves (because player movement is limited, serves must be directed to the table’s end line).
The Skill Required to Play
Most of us have played table tennis as children, haphazardly hitting the ball back and forth with our friends in someone’s basement, but few of us have ever played the sport at a highly competitive level.
Wheelchair table tennis requires precise movements and lightning-fast agility. Because players have limited movement while in their wheelchairs, they must rely on quick reaction times in their upper bodies to outplay their opponents.
The games are fast, with points being decided by volleys that last mere seconds.
Are you ready for the Paralympics? What’s your favorite event? Join the conversation by commenting below!