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Paralympic flashback: Stoke Mandeville, July 1957

Posted at 4:00 pm, August 28, 2012 in Olympics & Paralympics
Kathleen Yates and Julia Brockwell 1957

The wheelchairs in this picture look about as manoeuvrerable as a grand piano, so how Kathleen Yates (left), 25, and Julia Brockwell, 17, actually managed to feint, thrust and parry in them is anyone’s guess. But hats (or visors) off to the ladies, who were competing in the fencing championships at the International Sports Festival for the Paralysed, one of the earliest incarnations of the Paralympics. The first ever major event for disabled athletes took place at Stoke Mandeville hospital in Buckinghamshire in 1948 as the Summer Olympics opened in London, where the hospital’s Dr Ludwig Guttmann hosted the competition for British World War II patients with spinal cord injuries.

The London 2012 Paralympics run from August 29 to September 9, with 4,200 athletes competing.

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