Sep 10, 2012 15:30 - holliegibson | 1,471 views
As the sporting summer continues, many people will be heading to London for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see sportsmen and sportswomen competing at the highest level of their disciplines. As well as rugby, racing and athletics, some of the greatest tussles for the top are taking place in sports you might never have heard of!
Sports which are dominated by disabled athletes include some which for many might fly under the radar, and there’s no better chance than now to put these centre stage. So settle yourself in a central London hotel, hop on the tube and be inspired to try your hand, foot and hearing in one of the games below.
A game played by athletes with visual impairments. Every one of the six players (three on each team) wears a blindfold so they’re relying on touch and sound alone. A pitch is marked out with tape so players can orientate and position themselves and the bouncy, football-sized ball has a bell in.
Goals are the width of the pitch and teams guard their goal while taking shots at the opposing team. Spectators and players must stay absolutely silent during play in case they misdirect or distract the defending team, although when a goal is scored cheering is actively encouraged! Skills that are essential include speed (some players can throw up to 60mph), accuracy and good spatial awareness.
For more information and to see if there’s a team in your area, take a look at the Goalball UK homepage.
Powerlifting does what it says on the tin: athletes with intense core and upper body strength lift well in excess of their bodyweight in order to score in whichever of 20 weight classes they fall in. It’s more like bench pressing than weightlifting, as a player lies on a bench and lifts increasingly heavy barbells. Often straps are used to help secure their lower body, anywhere between the hips and the heels.
As well as sheer power, control is imperative: the bar must be lowered to the chest and held, then the arms full extended and held, and any fouls can result in a disqualification. Expect grunts, shouts and chalky fists pumping the sky. It’s intense, and there’s a lot of adrenaline flying about.
A target game very similar to pétanque or bowls, players of boccia throw, roll or kick heavy leather balls towards a white ‘jack’ that’s tossed onto the pitch before the game starts. Each team plays from a seated position, and has six heavy leather balls. They either take it in turns to throw, or take shots until they’re closest to the jack or out of balls. The side with the ball closest to the jack will score points for how many balls are nearer to the target than their opponents’.
A game of skill and strategy, the players will be constantly watching the angles of the balls on the pitch as the match progresses, planning moves sometimes five or six shots ahead and using played balls to bounce, deflect or slow their opponents plays. As men and women of all ages compete together, it’s one of the only international sports which is truly integrated.
This is one sport you most certainly have not heard of. The comically (but very logically) named ‘dartchery’ became a Paralympic event in 1960. This sport involves skilled archers who use their bows to fire at a target with a dartboard layout, and darts scoring applies. In the first two years it was played every entrant to the discipline received a medal because there were only three in the first year, and of the four that entered in 1964 two tied for bronze!