The highs and lows from this year’s Paralympics are truly a sight to behold

2022 Paralympics have been an incredible ride, and these photos prove it

Pavlo Bal of Team Ukraine competes in the Men's Sprint Sitting Qualification on Day 5 at Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Center on March 9. (Lintao Zhang, Getty Images)

If you got really into the Winter Olympics this year, and you’re missing the excitement, hopefully you can check out the final few days of the Paralympic Games.

The Paralympics are for athletes with disabilities.

These are sometimes confused with the Special Olympics -- but the Paralympics are different. And it’s not like everyone gets a medal just for showing up: These are super competitive events, just intended for athletes who live with a range of disabilities.

The Paralympics (just pronounced “pear-Olympics,” not “Para Olympics,” which you do hear sometimes), is the largest international event of its kind. It’s held shortly after each Olympic Games, in the same host city.

If you want to learn more, Rolling Stone magazine suggests checking out “Rising Phoenix” on Netflix, which features several athletes from the Summer Paralympic Games, who competed in Tokyo, including fencer Bebe Vio of Italy, sprinter Jonnie Peacock of Great Britain, and archer Matt Stutzman of Team USA.

Here are results, as well, if there are any winter sports you’re following in particular. OK, now onto those photos:

Davide Bendotti of Team Italy competes during the Men's Giant Slalom Standing Run 1 on Day 6 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics, March 10. (Getty Images)
Dani Aravich of Team United States reacts as she crosses the finish line the Women's Sprint Standing Paralympic Para Biathlon during Day 1 of the Winter Paralympics, March 5. (Getty Images)
Hiraku Misawa of Team Japan competes in the Para Alpine Skiing Men's Super Combined Slalom Standing at Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Center during Day 3 of the Winter Paralympics on March 7. (Getty Images)
Zdenek Krupicka of Team Czech Republic celebrates victory after the Preliminary Round Group B Para Ice Hockey game between Czech Republic and Slovakia on Day 4, March 8. (Getty Images)
Carina Edlinger of Team Austria reacts after winning the gold medal in the Women's Sprint Free Technique Vision Impaired Final on Day 5, March 9. (Getty Images)
Bronze medalist Zebastian Modin of Team Sweden celebrates with his guide after finishing the Men's Sprint Free Technique Vision Impaired Final on Day 5 at Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Center on March 9. (2022 Getty Images)
Mingliang Zhang of Team China competes in the Mixed Wheelchair Curling Round Robin Match between People's Republic of China and Slovakia during Day 5 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics on March 9. Multiple exposures were combined in the camera to produce this image. (2022 Getty Images)
The Chinese flag is raised inside the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics, March 4. (2022 Getty Images)
Carina Edlinger of Team Austria celebrates crossing the finish line to win the gold medal in the Women's Sprint Free Technique Vision Impaired Final on Day 5 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics, March 9. (Getty Images)
Oleksandr Aleksyk of Team Ukraine competes in the Para Biathlon Men's Middle Distance Sitting at Day 4 on March 8. (Getty Images)
Huiling Li of Team China is helped by teammates Yujie Guo after the Women's Middle Distance Standing Biathlon during Day 4 of the Winter Paralympics on March 8. (Getty Images for International Paralympic Committee)
Dani Aravich of Team United States competes in the Women's Sprint Free Technique Standing Qualification on Day 5, March 9. (2022 Getty Images)
Hiraku Misawa of Team Japan competes in the Para Alpine Skiing Men's Super Combined Super-G at Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Center during Day 3 of the Beijing Winter Paralympics on March 7. (Getty Images)
Bronze medallist Collin Cameron of Team Canada celebrates during the Men's Sprint Sitting Final flower ceremony on Day 5, March 9. (2022 Getty Images)
Gold medal winner Brian Mckeever of Team Canada celebrates following the Men's Sprint Free Technique Vision Impaired Final on Day 5, March 9. (2022 Getty Images)
Jostein Stordahl of Team Norway competes in the Mixed Wheelchair Curling Round Robin Match between Norway and Sweden during Day 5 of Paralympic Games on March 9. (Getty Images)
Anthony Chalencon of Team France and his guide Brice Ottonello react after the Men's Visually Impaired Sprint during Day 5 of the Paralympics on March 9. (Getty Images for International Paralympic Committee)
Gold medalist Carina Edlinger, at left, of Team Austria celebrates on the podium with her guide dog Riley and her guide during the medal ceremony for the Women's Sprint Free Technique Vision Impaired at Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Center on Day 5 in Beijing. (2022 Getty Images)
Wang Chenyang of Team China competes in the Men's Sprint Free Technique Standing Semifinal 2 on Day 5 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics on March 9. (Getty Images)
Lyne-Marie Bilodeau of Team Canada competes in the Women's Sprint Sitting Qualification on Day 5 at Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Center, on March 9. (Getty Images)
This was snapped during the Qualifying Final Para Ice Hockey game between China and Czech Republic at the National Indoor Stadium on Day 5. (2022 Getty Images)
Vanesa Gaskova of Team Slovakia competes in the Para Alpine Skiing Women's Super Combined Slalom Standing during Day 3 on March 7 in Yanqing, China. (Getty Images)
Gold medalist Natalie Wilkie of Team Canada, at right, fist bumps silver medalist Vilde Nilsen of Team Norway after the in the Women's Sprint Free Technique Standing Final on Day 5 of the Winter Paralympics on March 9. (Getty Images)
Left to right are Haitao Wang, Zhuo Yan and Mingliang Zhang of Team China, as they react after beating Norway in the Mixed Wheelchair Curling Round Robin Match between Norway and People's Republic of China during Day 5 on March 9. (Getty Images)
Gold medal winner Natalie Wilkie of Team Canada celebrates following the Women's Sprint Free Technique Standing Final on Day 5, March 9. (2022 Getty Images)

In the Olympics, sports are mostly grouped by sex or weight class. In the Paralympics, athletes compete against people who have about the same functional ability as they do. It’s all about levels of impairment, so that the events are fair. Classifications can refer to physical, vision and intellectual impairments.

It’s a lot to learn about and get into, but if you’re planning on watching or you want to learn more, click or tap here for a breakdown.

Although we touched on this earlier, it’s worth reiterating: These sports are hard, and no one is given a pass to the Paralympics just because of a disability.

“Some misconceptions are, that with the Paralympics, we just sign up and go to the Games,” American triathlete Melissa Stockwell, an Iraq war veteran, told Reuters. “But we train just as hard as able-bodied athletes. We sacrifice just as much. ... The toll on our body is just as much or more when someone is dealing with a prosthetic limb or a spinal cord injury or are in a wheelchair. We work just as hard as Olympic athletes.”


As the International Paralympic Committee put it, on the group’s website, “Sport for athletes with an impairment has existed for more than 100 years, and the first sport clubs for the deaf were already in existence in 1888 in Berlin. (But) it was not until after World War II, however, that it was widely introduced. The purpose of it at that time was to assist the large number of war veterans and civilians who had been injured during wartime.”

The IPC, by the way, is the governing body for the Paralympics, kind of like how the International Olympic Committee oversees the Olympics. The Paralympic Games first took place in Rome in 1960. There were 400 athletes from 23 countries.

Last year was a historical time for these Games -- in 2021, for the first time, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said they would give Paralympians the same amount of money for winning medals as Olympians (which is $37,500 for gold). Read more about that here.


About the Author:

Michelle is the Managing Editor of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which writes for all of the company's news websites.