“Finally, there are some famous words you can find stamped on the bottom of a product,” said Lord Coe, in his speech at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. “Words, that when you read them, you know mean high quality, mean skill, mean creativity. We have stamped those words on the Olympic and Paralympic Games of London 2012: ‘London 2012 – Made in Britain’.”
The Olympic and Paralympic Games were indeed made in Britain in 2012, but the Paralympic Games have their entire origin in Britain in the 1948 Olympiad, being the first organised athletic competition for the disabled in history. It was the brainchild of Dr Ludwig Guttmann of Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, whose aim “was to create an elite sports competition for people with disabilities”. The 1948 Stoke Mandeville Games or ‘International Wheelchair Games’ might have been an amateurish attempt to rehabilitate our war-wounded, and limited to those with spinal injuries to the exclusion of congenital defects, but it was a start, and it was a British initiative.