Background to the Games

The 1984 Paralympic Winter Games, known at the time as the '3rd Weltwinterspiele für Körperbehinderte' which can be translated as 'Winter Games for the Disabled', or, literally, 'World Winter Games for the Physically Challenged' were held in Innsbruck, Austria. This was the first time that a Winter Games had been held outside of Scandinavia, and they were the first Winter Games to be organised by the International Co-coordinating Committee Sports for the Disabled in the World (ICC), which had been founded in 1982. The Games were held from the 15th to the 21st January 1984. 

The National Council of Austria (the lower house of the Austrian Parliament) granted a federal subsidy of 2.5 million schillings and a further 500,000 schillings from the Invalidity Employment Act, BGBl, Ausgleichstaxfonds (compensation fund).

They also authorised the Austrian Postal and Telegraph Administration to release a commemorative stamp with a 2 schilling surcharge to contribute to the funding for the Games.

Innsbruck 1984 Paralympic Winter Games commemorative stamp

Commemorative postage stamp © Österreichische Post 

A team of Paralympic athletes were chosen to demonstrate Giant Slalom at the Sarajevo Winter Olympics which took place in February 1984, highlighting the improving relationship between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the ICC.

The build-up to the Games

Logo and Poster

Underneath the Olympic rings at the top of the image are the words 'Under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee'. The central image is one of Innsbruck’s most iconic landmarks, the 'Goldenes Dachl' (Golden Roof), and the five broken rings underneath are meant to represent the participants disabilities.

Changes to Events

Ice-sledge speed racing, which had only been a demonstration sport previously, was introduced at the Innsbruck 1984 Games along with downhill skiing (which is part of the alpine skiing discipline). 

Sit-skiing, also known as mono-skiing, was a demonstration sport but it did not become a medal event until the 1998 Nagano Games. 

These were the first Winter Games to include events for athletes with cerebral palsy.

The opening ceremony

Little is recorded about the opening ceremony, but it is known that Juan Antonio Samaranch, President of the IOC, made a speech that confirmed that the Paralympic Games now had the patronage of the IOC.

During the Games

The Medals

Images of the medals can be found on the IPC website: https://www.paralympic.org/innsbruck-1984/medals

The medals were different to those from earlier Games, as one side showed the Olympic rings and 'III. World Winter Games for the Physically Disabled' while the other had a pictogram for the specific sport.

Medal statistics

Great Britain won a total of 10 medals (4 silver and 6 bronze) and finished twelfth in the table.

Prominent British Paralympic athletes

  • John Watkins - John won the first ever medal for the British Team when he took bronze in the Men's Alpine Skiing, Alpine Combination LW5/7.
  • Ken Robertson - Ken won silver in the Men's Ice Sledge Speed Skating 300 m Gr I and bronze in the Men's Ice Sledge Speed Skating 100 m Gr I.
  • Peter Young - a piano tuner by trade, Peter won bronze in the Men's Cross-Country Skiing Short Distance 10 km B1.
  • Denise Smith - won the first Women’s Wheelchair London Marathon in 1983 before winning three silver medals at the 1984 Winter Paralympic Games for Ice Sledge Speed Skating, Women's 100m, 300m and 500m Gr I.
  • Ann Peskey - Ann won three bronze medals in Ice Sledge Speed Skating, Women's 100m, 300m and 500m Gr I. Later that year she became the first British athlete to win medals at both a Winter and Summer Games when she won gold in the Women’s Table Tennis Doubles.

References

  • I.S. Brittain, From Stoke Mandeville to Stratford: A History of the Summer Paralympic Games, (Champaign, Illinois: Common Ground Publishing).
  • Bell, Daniel, Encyclopaedia of International Games, (Jefferson, North Carolina, McFarland & Co.).
  • Hal O'Leary, Bold Tracks: Teaching Adaptive Skiing.
  • Daniel Jackson, Caroline Hodges, Mike Molesworth and Richard Scullion, Reframing disability: media, (dis)empowerment and voice in the 2012 Paralympic Games. Abingdon, Routledge.
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  • https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1010795/1984-innsbruck
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  • https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/disability-sport/43184593
  • https://www.researchgate.net/publication/277606715_The_evolution_of_the_winter_Paralympic_games_and_sports
  • https://austria-forum.org/af/Wissenssammlungen/Briefmarken/1984/Weltwinterspiele_f%C3%BCr_Behinderte
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  • https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/disability-sport/43184593
  • http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sport/winter_olympics_98/62043.stm
  • http://sportsister.com/2014/10/21/swoty-get-the-knowledge-do-you-know-who-won-back-in-1988/
  • https://vlex.at/vid/bundesgesetz-iii-weltwinterspiele-innsbruck-41368608?_ga=2.238064960.1973263787.1568024641-1262306567.1568024641