Athlete First - A History of the ParalympicMovement
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Today the Paralympic Movement is recognised as a global sporting phenomenon attracting thousands of athletes from an ever-increasing number of countries. Athlete First provides a thoroughly researched history and analysis of the Paralympic Movement, including the development and organisation of the International Paralympic Committee. As well as recounting factual achievements and events, the book examines the position of sport and international competition for people with a disability within their changing historical context and in relation to the Olympic Movement and able-bodied sport.
  • The first history of the origins and development of the Paralympic movement
  • Examines disabled sport and international competition within their changing historical context
  • Includes details of key players in the movement – on and off the field

Written in an accessible style by a recognised historian Athlete First will prove invaluable to researchers and professionals involved in the field of sport and disability as well as sport scientists and physical education specialists with an interest in sports history.

The Publisher appreciates the role played by the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE) in bringing this publication to fruition, and acknowledges the financial assistance provided by the International Olympic Committee.


Dr Steve Bailey. Winchester College, UK


List of Figures and Boxes.

Foreword: Sir Philip Craven.

Foreword: Prof. Dr Gudrun Doll-Tepper.

International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education.


List of Abbreviations.

Chapter 1. A Showcase of Ability.

Chapter 2. An Air of Hopelessness.

Chapter 3. The Era of Development: 1960 to 1980.

Chapter 4. Fair, not Equal: 1980 to 1988.

Chapter 5. Building Bridges not Walls: 1988 to 1992.

Chapter 6. Spirit in Motion: 1992 to 1996.

Chapter 7. Repair What Needs Repair? 1996 to 2000.

Chapter 8. Sport is About Emotion: 2000 to 2004.

Bibliography and Resources.



“All in all this is an indispensable guide to the labyrinthine origins of disability and Paralympic sport and this book will be an absolutely vital source text for other scholars working in this area.”  (Sport in History, 28 June 2012)

“The book is the first cohesive history of the Paralympic Movement.” (, June 2009)

"This book successfully takes on the task of chronicling the story of the paralympic movement. Along the way, readers are introduced to some of the strong characters who have helped get the paralympians to their current position on the international sports stage." (Doody's, January 2009)