Paralympic Summer Games -- Barcelona 1992
3 - 14 September 1992
The 1992 Paralympics was to be the largest showcase ever of elite disability sport. The Organizing Committee of the Barcelona Olympic Games (COOB) was concerned that the large number of Paralympic competitions might reduce the credibility of the Games built up by increasingly superior athletic performances. Consequently, the Organizing Committee reduced the number of athletes by setting strict rules and regulations. This caused some controversy, but it also simplified and raised the level of competition, and allowed athletes with different disabilities to participate in the same events.
Some 3,000 athletes and 1,000 coaches, trainers, officials and managers were housed in the Olympic village. The Village was accessible to all athletes and had medical facilities at each venue. Initially, funding for the 1992 Paralympics was limited, but the sum grew with contributions from the Spanish National Organization for the Blind (ONCE) foundation.
The Opening Ceremony on 3 September in the Montjuic Olympic Stadium was attended by 65,000 spectators and watched by millions of television viewers. Almost 90 delegations took part in the parade. Support was reinforced by the presence of Juan Antonio Samaranch, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, and Mayor Pasquel Maragall, who was highly supportive of the Paralympic Games.
Over 12 days of competition in 15 sports, more than 1.5 million spectators attended various events and millions more watched the competitions daily over television. A total of 3,020 athletes from 82 countries were fielded, with about 50% competing in Athletics and Swimming. Some 487 events were held, with 279 world records set and 431 gold medals won. Wheelchair Tennis, a demonstration event at Seoul 1988, became an official medal event.
Outstanding performances came from athletes in all four disability groups. Visually impaired swimmer Trischa Zorn of the USA garnered an impressive 10 gold and two silver medals. John Morgan and Bart Dodson of the USA won all eight medals in their Swimming and Athletic events respectively, while teammate Elizabeth Scott took seven golds in Swimming.
Volleyball and Wheelchair Basketball competitions were played before capacity crowds. In Wheelchair Basketball, the Canadian women's team won the gold, beating the US 35:26 in the final. Iran, the favorite among the 12 teams in the Volleyball (Sitting) event, prevailed over a strong Dutch team 3:1 to take the gold. The Volleyball (Standing) event was won by defending Paralympic champions Germany 3:0 over Poland. The men's wheelchair Marathon provided a thrilling finish for the 65,000 spectators in the Olympic Stadium when Heinz Frei of Switzerland outlasted a field of 196 competitors to cross the finish line in a time of 1:30 hours. Connie Hansen of Denmark took an early lead in the women's wheelchair Marathon and also the gold in 1:42.48 hours. A world-class performance came in the 100m dash for single-arm amputees when Ajibola Adeoye of Nigeria finished in 10.72 seconds. Hypothetically, with the use of two unimpaired arms, Adeoye could have ran in 10.05 seconds, a time that would have placed him fourth in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
The Closing Ceremony on 14 September in the Olympic Stadium brought a spectacular end to one of the finest Games in the history of the Paralympics.
An ICC-auspiced Paralympic Games for athletes with an intellectual disability was also held in Madrid shortly after the Barcelona Paralympic Games.