European Para Championships 2023
Posted by Francis Whitehead on August 11, 2023
Taking place right now, until the 20th of August is the European Para Championships.
The Para Championships are staged every four years and hosted by a major European city in the year before the Paralympic Games.
For 2023, the European Championships of 10 different parasports will be organized simultaneously in one host city, for the very first time!
The event will take place in Rotterdam, with 1,500 Paralympic athletes from 45 different European countries competing to become European Champions.
So, let us take a closer look at all the sports involved...
As you can see, the competition is bound to be jam-packed with some amazing performances from Paralympians!
An accessible sport that can be played standing or sitting is para archery, which allows athletes to fire their arrows with assistive devices allowed under classification rules.
The premise is simple, archers aim arrows at a target and shoot them as close to the centre of the target as possible to get the maximum amount of points. In para archery, the target size and distance archers stand from the target differs based on the competition category for full accessibility.
Badminton is a sport with a passionate fan following around the globe, and is widely regarded as the fastest racquet sport around!
Players hit a uniquely shaped shuttlecock to keep it in the air, and if it lands in the opponent's court without being struck, then the opposite side gets a point.
It's played in either teams of 1 or 2, referred to as "singles" or "doubles", and the first team to 21 points wins.
Boccia is another great sport, with its origins going back to ancient Greece and Egypt!
From a seated position, players throw, roll, or kick a ball to land as close as possible to a white marker ball, known as the Jack. Players who are unable to release the ball with their hands often use a specially designed boccia ramp.
Each side, red or blue, plays six balls at each end. After each end, the athlete with the ball closest to the jack receives 1 point plus an additional point for each ball closer to the jack than their opponent's. Points are accumulated throughout a match to find a winner.
Cycling involves riding a bicycle around a track and racing other athletes in the hopes of becoming 1st place.
There are five sports classes for hand cycling, two for tricycle, and five for bicycle, while the three sports classes for tandem compete in one event.
Goalball is an interesting inclusion, originating in 1946 by Hanz Lorenzen and Sepp Reindl to help rehabilitate veterans who had lost their sight during the Second World War.
It is a sport played exclusively by athletes who are blind or vision impaired, with the teams being split into 3 categories depending on what percentage of vision they have to ensure a fair competition.
In goalball, two teams of three players each face each other across a court that is nine meters wide and 18 meters long. The object of the game is to roll a basketball size ball with bells inside over the opponent's goal line. Your opponents listen for the oncoming ball and attempt to block it with their bodies, making sure it doesn’t go in their own goal!
Paralympic judo follows the same rules as Olympic judo, with the only difference being that athletes hold each other’s suits during the contest.
Combats last five minutes for men and four for women. The aim is to either gain more points than the rival by skillful attacks or score the “ippon” by throwing the opponent with their back on the ground, immobilizing them, or forcing a submission.
Shooting is similar to archery in the way that athletes have to fire at a target to gain the maximum amount of points.
In many events that showcase the athletes’ skill and accuracy – the scoring rings are further divided into a further 10 scoring zones to provide a decimal scoring system, with 10.9 being the very centre of the target and the highest possible score per shot.
To give you an idea of the level of accuracy required, athletes fire at a bulls-eye that is only 0.05cm wide – which is as big as a full-stop on a printed page!
A sport in this list that smashes taboos, expectations, and limitations of paralympic athletes is para taekwondo. Developed in 2006, Para taekwondo has exploded in popularity due to its practicality, minimal need for equipment, and spectacular spin kick techniques.
Taekwondo roughly translates to ‘the way of the foot and fist’, to correspond with the blows and kicks that score points.
The objective of each competitor is to end the match with the most points by landing blows and kicks on their opponent’s body.
Athletes can score additional points for more difficult kicks – 3 points for a turning kick and 4 for a spinning kick. This results in spectacular flurries and showmanship near the end of close matches.
In wheelchair basketball, players dribble a ball across a court and can pass to other players to get to their opponent's end. Once they're at a prime shooting spot, they can fire the ball into their opponent's hoop to gain points. The team with the highest amount of points wins!
A wheelchair basketball player takes one or two pushes while the ball is either resting on his or her lap or held in his or her hand, followed by dribbling the ball and this sequence may be repeated as often as the player wishes.
A travel violation is called when a player in possession pushes more than twice without dribbling. An infraction of the rules concerning illegal personal contact with an opponent – the wheelchair is considered a part of the player.
Wheelchair tennis follows the rules of standard tennis with one key exception: the ball is allowed to bounce twice before the player hits it back.
Controlling the wheelchair is an essential skill for Paralympic tennis players, who must quickly turn it around a point to get in position to return the ball and cover the entire court.
As you can see, it's quite an extensive list! If you get any ideas for accessible sports you can do at home, we at Ability Superstore highly recommend Boccia! We have a wide range of Boccia products from entry-level to pro, so you can be sure you can get stuck in.
Lawn Boccia Set
For those who wish to make use of whenever the sun eventually comes out, this Lawn Boccia Set is perfect for you. These solid, moulded balls are perfect for use outdoors, on grass or gravel when you’re learning the game.
Standard Indoor Boccia Set
For those who want a reliable Boccia set for indoor use, this Standard Indoor Boccia Set does the job. The 12-panel ball design comes in all colours needed to have a game against 2 teams.
Superior Competition Boccia Set
And if you want the highest-quality, most durable competition-standard set on the market, the Superior Competition Boccia Set has no expense spared. You can choose between a soft and hard density, and a 6 panel or 12 panel ball design. Each ball is made of first-class soft Japanese synthetic leather and comes complete with a durable carry case to take wherever you go.
You can take part in the European Para Championships every day, as every event is being streamed for free on the official website. You can check the schedule here to see when your favourite sports are on!
You can also watch a video version of this article below!
Get in Touch
How will you be taking part in the European Para Championships? Ability Superstore would love to know! If you have any further questions or inquiries about Boccia, please don’t hesitate to ask. We will be more than happy to help!