My Way to Olympia

PBS Premiere: July 7, 2014Check the broadcast schedule »

In Context

Players qualify for the Paralympic Games the same way athletes qualify for the Olympic Games: through regulated competitions held all over the world. The goal is to earn a spot on one's national Paralympic Team and then a spot at the next Paralympic Games. For a few Paralympians, competition is a full-time job, with sponsors that pay for coaches and demanding training; many others hold regular jobs to support themselves as they train and compete. Athletes compete in categories based not only on type of impairment, but the degree to which it affects their play. For example, Greek boccia player Grigoris Polychronidis, seen in the film, competes at the Paralympics alongside players with different disabilities that similarly affect their ability to throw the boccia ball. Players able to throw the boccia ball without assistance compete separately. The level of athleticism demanded by Paralympic competition is comparable to that required for Olympic play, and the mental game is equally demanding. Many Paralympic athletes train and compete alongside able-bodied athletes in their home countries, and many of their coaches work with able-bodied players as well.


» Boccia International Sports Federation. "Classification."