Athlete First: A History of the Paralympic Movement / Edition 1

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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)

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: David M. Peck, MD, FACSM, CAQ (Providence Hospital and Medical Centers)
Description: This book, proposed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Council of Sports Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE), and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), is an extensive historical account of the paralympic movement from its humble beginnings in 1948 to the international excitement of the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games. The author, a respected historian, was allowed access to the original minutes of the IPC meetings and to the IOC's research center which helped in the compilation of this huge undertaking.
Purpose: The author has set out to trace and interpret the phenomenon that has become the paralympic movement. This objective has been met successfully and the book serves as a testament to all those who have brought athletes with disabilities to their rightful place alongside Olympic athletes.
Audience: The book is written for a large audience including students, residents, physicians of all specialties, and anyone interested in the story of the rise to prominence of this awe-inspiring group of athletes.
Features: Amid the history of the paralympic movement, the human stories stand out to personalize and humanize the book. For example, there is Ludwig Guttman's strong desire to transform the life of a post-war wheelchair-bound patient, who had a life expectancy of eight weeks, to a thriving independent member of society and an active member of a world class sports team. The photographs of paralympians in action are another highlight of the book, but it would have enhanced the book even more if photographs from the earlier years were included. The organizational development of the IPC is well highlighted from its infancy to its designation in 1989 as the international group in charge of all paralympic groups.
Assessment: 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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470058244
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 2/4/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 302
  • Product dimensions: 7.76 (w) x 10.08 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr Steve Bailey. Winchester College, UK

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Table of Contents

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.


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