The Paralympic Games were started in 1948 by Sir Ludwig Guttman who wanted a sports event that involved injured veterans from World War II.
The first event, called the Stoke Mandeville Games, included 16 injured service men and women who took part in an archery competition.
In 1952 the Games were re-named the International Stoke Mandeville Games, when former Dutch service personnel competed.
The first official Paralympics were held in 1960 in Rome and featured eight sports and 400 athletes from 23 countries.
In London 2012, 4294 athletes competed from 164 countries and this year more than 4000 athletes from 160 countries are taking part.
New Zealand first competed at the Paralympics in in 1968 and has won 197 medals at both the summer and winter Paralympics.
The most successful New Zealand para-athlete is Eve Rimmer who has won 14 medals.
The most medals won by a New Zealand athlete at one Games is six, by both Sophie Pascoe at London in 2012 and Duane Kale in Atlanta in 1996.