These awesome sports are uniquely Paralympian

You've scoured the Paralympic schedule for late-night, solid gold sport and come up with a timetable.

But if you haven't followed the Paralympic sports since 2012, it might be time to brush up on the rules of some of its specialist events.

These ones can't be found anywhere else.


Great Britain's Nigel Murray throws a ball (Anthony Devlin/PA
(Anthony Devlin/PA)

The word comes from Latin for the word ball, but how do you pronounce it?

For the rest of the world, it's bot-cha. For the North Americans, who always like to be different, it's bot-chi.

Played on a court of a similar size to badminton, it's a bit like bowls, only more interesting.

Players from two teams roll or throw balls as close as possible to a smaller white ball positioned on the court. The team with the most balls closest to the central white ball is the winner.

Boccia can be played as singles, doubles or a three-person team, mixed sex.

The game was originally designed to be played by people with cerebral palsy, but has opened up to athletes with other conditions that affect motor skills. There are four classifications based on functional ability, ranging from BC4 to BC1.

Boccia first debuted at the Paralympics in 1984 and is played in 50 countries around the world, with Portugal, Brazil and Korea considered the best.


Goal Ball (Chris Radburn/PA)
(Chris Radburn/PA)

It may sound obvious what goalball is about but it's a nuanced game focusing on using senses other than sight to score points.

Below professional level, sighted people can play, because everyone wears blackout eye-masks. But at Paralympic level, athletes must have a visual impairment of less than 10% of sight remaining, or a field of vision of only 20 degrees.

The aim of the game is to get the basketball-sized ball into a 9m wide, 1.3m high goal. The ball has two bells inside it to help athletes work out its direction of travel, and string on the court lines help athletes orientate themselves.

Each team is allowed three players on the court at one time and can use up to three substitutes. The teams take turns rolling the ball at the goal, and the opposing team has to try and save it.

Two goalball players dive for the ball (Rebecca Naden/PA)
(Rebecca Naden/PA)

Invented in 1946, the game was created to help rehabilitate WW2 veterans whose injuries affected their sight. It became a Paralympic sport in 1976.

Unfortunately, Great Britain didn't qualify this year so you'll have to satisfy yourself with China and Japan's thrilling rivalry.


Powerlifting at London 2012 (EMPICS Sport/PA)

Think bench-pressing but much, much harder.

Powerlifting is for athletes with physical impairments that effect lower limbs or hips, or those of short stature.

Competitors lift weights of more than three times their bodyweight by bench pressing. Unlike other forms of benchpress, the athlete must keep their lower limbs on a specifically designed bench, rather than using their feet on the floor to balance and assist the lift.

Powerlifter competes at London 2012 (Chris Radburn/PA)
(Chris Radburn/PA)

Athletes are classified by their bodyweight and gender.

Powerlifting started as weightlifting in the 1964 Paralympics, but has since been renamed. Women began to compete in 2000.

Wheelchair rugby

Two wheelchair rugby players collide (Chris Radburn/PA)
(Chris Radburn/PA)

This rough tough alternative to wheelchair basketball is played indoors and is more like handball or basketball than rugby.

Two teams of four use specially-built wheelchairs to pass a volleyball between them, with the aim of scoring over the opposition's try line. Once a team has possession, they have 40 seconds to score.

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