We are reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.Β Learn more.

Greetings, Paralympic sports fans!

Are you ready to be inspired?

Jump into our Paralympic sports list, sorted by popularity.

From experienced athletes to curious rookies, there’s a sport here for everyone passionate about showcasing the power of determination and adaptability.

#1 Wheelchair Basketball

Wheelchair Basketball

Wheelchair basketball has its origins in the 1940s, when it was developed as a rehabilitation sport for injured servicemen in the USA.

It has since grown in popularity and is now played in countries worldwide. The sport became part of the Paralympic Games in 1960.

Governed by the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF), the sport also has its own World Championships.

#2 Para Athletics

Para Athletics

Para athletics encompasses a wide range of track and field events for athletes with various disabilities.

The first track and field events for athletes with disabilities were organized in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

The sport was included in the first Paralympic Games in 1960. Governed by World Para Athletics, it remains one of the most popular sports in the Paralympic program.

#3 Para Swimming

Para swimming includes numerous events for swimmers with disabilities and has been part of the Paralympic Games program since the first edition in 1960.

The sport is governed by World Para Swimming, who organizes competitions such as the World Para Swimming Championships.

Para swimming is practiced in countries worldwide and attracts a diverse range of athletes.

#4 Wheelchair Tennis

Wheelchair Tennis

Wheelchair tennis was created in the 1970s by American, Brad Parks, and has since become popular around the globe.

The sport made its Paralympic debut in 1992. Governed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), wheelchair tennis is played on standard tennis courts, with minor modifications to the game’s rules.

Tournaments such as the Wheelchair Tennis Grand Slam events are held alongside able-bodied competitions.

#5 Sitting Volleyball

Sitting volleyball was developed in the 1950s in the Netherlands as a rehabilitation activity for injured soldiers.

The sport was introduced to the Paralympic Games in 1980. Governed by World ParaVolley, sitting volleyball is played in countries worldwide, with both male and female teams competing at the highest level.

Regional and World Championships in sitting volleyball are held regularly.

#6 Para Ice Hockey

Para ice hockey (originally known as sledge hockey) was invented in Sweden in the early 1960s as an adaptive winter sport.

The sport debuted in the Paralympic Winter Games in 1994. Governed by World Para Ice Hockey, the sport is played in several countries, primarily in North America and Europe.

The World Para Ice Hockey Championships are held biennially.

#7 Wheelchair Rugby

Wheelchair rugby was developed in the 1970s in Canada, originated from a hybrid of wheelchair basketball and ice hockey. The sport was introduced to the Paralympics in 2000.

Wheelchair rugby is governed by the World Wheelchair Rugby (WWR) and is played in countries worldwide. World and regional championships are held regularly, generating strong competition among participating nations.

#8 Para Alpine Skiing

Para alpine skiing dates back to the 1940s in Austria and Germany but gained wider recognition in the 1960s.

The sport made its Paralympic Winter Games debut in 1976. Governed by World Para Alpine Skiing, the sport is popular in countries with suitable mountainous terrain for skiing.

Major competitions include the World Para Alpine Skiing Championships and the Para Alpine Skiing World Cup.

#9 Para Table Tennis

Para table tennis originated as a recreational and rehabilitation activity in the 1950s, and has since grown in popularity around the world.

The sport has been included in the Paralympic Games since its inception in 1960.

Governed by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Para Table Tennis Division, the World Para Table Tennis Championships are held every two years.

#10 Para Cycling

Para cycling, which includes road and track events, was developed in the 1970s and 1980s as an adaptive sport for people with disabilities.

The sport was first included in the Paralympic Games in 1984.

Governed by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), para cycling has become popular in many countries worldwide, with competitions such as the UCI Para-cycling Road and Track World Championships attracting top athletes.

More Paralympic Sports

  1. Blind Football: Developed in the 1950s, blind football is a five-a-side football game for visually impaired athletes. The sport debuted in the Paralympic Games in 2004. Most popular in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) governs the sport and organizes championships such as the IBSA World Blind Football Championship.
  2. Goalball: Invented in 1946 as a rehabilitation sport for visually impaired veterans, goalball was introduced to the Paralympics in 1976. The sport is governed by the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) and is played globally. The IBSA Goalball World Championships take place every four years.
  3. Para Snowboard: Para snowboard, as an adaptive version of snowboarding, emerged in the early 2000s. The sport debuted in the Paralympic Winter Games in 2014. Governed by World Para Snow Sports, the sport is popular in countries with snowy climates. The World Para Snowboard Championships take place biennially.
  4. Para Triathlon: Para triathlon, an adaptation of triathlon for athletes with disabilities, was founded in the early 1990s. The sport made its Paralympic debut in the 2016 Rio Games. World Triathlon governs the sport, and the World Para Triathlon Championships are held annually.
  5. Para Equestrian: Para equestrian includes both dressage and para-driving events for riders with disabilities. The sport became a Paralympic event in 1996. Governed by the FΓ©dΓ©ration Γ‰questre Internationale (FEI), the FEI World Para Equestrian Championships are held regularly.
  6. Para Badminton: Para badminton, a version of badminton adapted for disabled athletes, emerged in the 1990s. The sport made its Paralympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games. Para badminton is governed by the Badminton World Federation (BWF), and the Para-Badminton World Championships are held biennially.
  7. Para Canoe: Para canoe is a water sport adapted for athletes with disabilities, featuring sprint races on flat water. The sport appeared in the Paralympic Games in 2016. Governed by the International Canoe Federation (ICF), the ICF Para Canoe World Championships are held annually.
  8. Para Rowing: Para rowing is an adaptation of rowing for athletes with impairments. The sport was included in the Paralympic program in 2005. The International Rowing Federation (FISA) governs the sport, and Para rowing features in the annual World Rowing Championships.
  9. Wheelchair Fencing: Wheelchair fencing was developed in the 1950s in England as a rehabilitation activity for injured soldiers. The sport was included in the Paralympic Games in 1960. Governed by the International Wheelchair & Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS), the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Championships are held biennially.
  10. Para Powerlifting: Para powerlifting, an adaptation of powerlifting for athletes with disabilities, was introduced in the 1960s. The sport became part of the Paralympic program in 1984. Governed by World Para Powerlifting, the World Para Powerlifting Championships occur every two years.
  11. Para Judo: Para judo is a visually impaired adaptation of judo, developed in the 1960s. The sport was added to the Paralympic Games in 1988. Governed by the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), Para judo has the IBSA World Para Judo Championships held every two years.
  12. Para Archery: Para archery emerged in the 1940s as a rehabilitation sport for injured veterans. The sport was included in the first Paralympic Games in 1960. The World Archery Federation governs para archery, and the World Para Archery Championships are held every two years.
  13. Shooting Para Sport: Shooting Para sport, as an adaptation of shooting, is designed for athletes with disabilities. The sport debuted in the Paralympic Games in 1976. Governed by World Shooting Para Sport, the World Shooting Para Sport Championships occur every four years.
  14. Para Taekwondo: Para taekwondo, a version of taekwondo for athletes with disabilities, was developed in the early 2000s. The sport made its Paralympic debut in the 2020 Tokyo Games. Governed by World Taekwondo, the World Para Taekwondo Championships are held biennially.
  15. Boccia: Boccia, a ball sport similar to boules or petanque, was specifically designed for athletes with cerebral palsy. The sport became part of the Paralympic Games in 1984. Governed by the Boccia International Sports Federation (BISFed), the BISFed World Championships take place every four years.
  16. Para Cross-Country Skiing: Para cross-country skiing, as an adaptive version of cross-country skiing, developed in the 1960s. The sport was introduced to the Paralympic Winter Games in 1976. Governed by World Para Nordic Skiing, the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships are held biennially.
  17. Wheelchair Curling: Wheelchair curling, an adaptation of curling for disabled athletes, was founded in the 2000s. The sport debuted at the Paralympic Winter Games in 2006. Governed by the World Curling Federation, the World Wheelchair Curling Championship takes place annually.
  18. Para Biathlon: Para biathlon, an adaptation of biathlon for athletes with physical impairments, emerged in the 1980s. The sport was included in the Paralympic Winter Games in 1988. Governed by World Para Nordic Skiing, the World Para Biathlon Championships are held biennially.

FAQ

What are the most popular Paralympic sports?

Some of the most popular Paralympic sports include wheelchair basketball, para athletics, para swimming, wheelchair tennis, sitting volleyball, para ice hockey, wheelchair rugby, para alpine skiing, para table tennis, and para cycling.

How many different Paralympic sports are there?

Our Paralympic sports list covers 28 unique sports, showcasing the diverse range of adaptability and athletic opportunities available for athletes with disabilities.

I'm a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. I run stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton, took part in the German Mini Golf Championships, started learning 'real' Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments