Cycling at the Paralympic Games

Cycling has quite a history at the Paralympics. It was first introduced in the 1984 Paralympic games, in New York. It included only road events for athletes with cerebral palsy. At the next Paralympic games, Seoul 1988, athletes with visual impairments only, competed. At Barcelona 1992, more impairment classes were included. Then, at Atlanta 1996, track events were finally added to the program.

Cycling is both a track and road event sport, for men and women. Athletes with physical and visual impairments can now compete, thanks to the sport adapting and growing over its initial 12 years.

Paralympic athletes compete under the same rules and regulations that are implemented in the Olympic Games.

According to an athlete’s impairment, they race on either a bicycle, tricycle, tandem or hand cycle. They can compete in sprints, time trials, or road races in individual or team events. When athletes from different classifications compete against each other, the severity of their impairment is considered. Hence, it is not always the fastest athlete who will win, but the athlete who scores the best after all external factors have been take into account.

Great British Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey is the most successful of the modern era. Having previously competed in swimming events at the Paralympics from 1992 to 2004, she eventually switched to cycling and earned 2 gold medals at the Beijing 2008 games and 4 at the London 2012 games. As a swimmer she won an impressive 9 gold, 4 silver and 3 bronze medals.

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