Last night saw the opening of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Below you'll find 10 facts about the Paralympics, its history, events, and a few tips on who to look out for in the ParalympicsGB team.

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The summer of sport is not quite over yet...go ParalympicsGB! And to celebrate we've launched a special discount code: get 11% off all Heathcote & Ivory products online for the 11 days of the 2012 Paralympic Games. Simply type PARA in your shopping basket.

1.

The Paralympic Games were created by Jewish doctor, Prof. Ludwig Guttmann, who had fled Nazi Germany during the war. His pioneering spinal injuries unit at Stoke Mandeville hospital sought to change the lives of patients with spinal injuries and inspire new hope in them through sport.

2.

The first Paralympic Games were called the "Stoke Mandeville Games" and took place in 1948 to coincide with the London Olympic Games. By 1956, there were 18 different nations participating.

3.

The first city to hold the Paralympic Games in tandem with the Olympic Games was Rome 1960, where 5,000 spectators watched the Paralympic opening ceremony. In London 2012 nearly 80,000 spectators will be expected to attend the opening ceremony.

4.

An estimated 4,200 athletes representing 165 countries are expected to attend the 2012 Paralympic Games, with 471 medal events on the programme spread across 21 sports.

5.

The Paralympic Games are the world’s second largest event after the Olympics, and is now the premier international sporting event for those born with disabilities, or disabled by injury or illness.

6.

Paralympic classification is a unique element of Paralympic sports and is designed to ensure fairness of each competition. Each sport in the games has its own unique classification rules. These rules define which athletes are eligible to compete in each sport, and group athletes in classes, defined by the degree to which they are limited in their ability.

For example, in the Paralympic Athletics Marathon, the classifications are as follows:
T12 – athletes with a visual impairment
T46 – athletes with an impairment that affects one arm, including amputees
T54 – wheelchair racers

7.

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and David Roberts are Britain’s most successful Paralympians, both have won 11 gold medals each, Grey-Thompson on the track and Roberts in the pool.

8.

The ParalympicsGB team has never finished lower than second in the medal table in the last three Paralympic Games – Beijing 2008 being the most successful with a final tally of 42 gold medals.

9.

In Beijing 2008 & Athens 2004 ParalympicsGB finished second behind China, and in Sydney 2000, they came second to Australia.

10.

ParalympicsGB Medal Hopes!

Will Bayley, Table Tennis - 2011 European champion for his classification.
Danielle Brown, Archery - won gold in the Women's individual compound at the Paralympics in Beijing.
Nigel Murray, Boccia - won gold in the BC2 class during the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney.
Jonnie Peacock, Athletics, 100m T44 - set a new 100 metres world record in amputee sprinting in June 2012.
Lee Pearson, Equestrian, Dressage - nine-times Paralympic Games gold medallist.
Ellie Simmonds, Swimming - won gold medals in the 100m and 400m freestyle events at the Paralympics in Beijing.
Sarah Storey, Cycling - won gold in the individual pursuit and the road time trial at the Paralympics in Beijing.
Shelly Woods, Athletics, Wheelchair Racing - won a bronze medal in the 5,000 metres wheelchair final at the Paralympics in Beijing.

Don't forget, to celebrate we've launched a special discount code: get 11% off all Heathcote & Ivory products online for the 11 days of the 2012 Paralympic Games. Simply type PARA in your shopping basket. Best of luck to everyone competing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games from Heathcote & Ivory.

Images: Wikimedia Commons