The 2008 Paralympic Summer Games officially opened in Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium yesterday, where over the next 11 days, 4000 athletes from 150 countries will compete in 20 sports for 472 gold medals. Be sure to check out Paralympic Sport TV's YouTube channel over the next two weeks for event footage, profiles, interviews and more.
A few athletes to watch for: world No. 1 wheelchair tennis player Esther Vergeer from the Netherlands, Canada's Chantal Petitclerc, German swimmer Kristen Bruhn and South African sprinter Oscar Pistorious, aka "The Blade Runner." Pistorious's recent attempt to qualify for the South African Olympic team electrified the sports world, but he'll be challenged by a highly-competitive field of sprinters. Here's a recent profile of Oscar:
> The host country of China is looking to surpass the 63 gold medals they won in Athens in 2004. In preparation for the Games, the Beijing city government made subway stations wheelchair accessible and added 2000 wheelchair-accessible buses and taxis.
> Sixteen of the 213 athletes on the U.S. delegation are military veterans, including swimmer Melissa Stockwell, an Army veteran of the Iraq War, and discus and shot put thrower Scott Winkler, an Army veteran of the campaign in Afghanistan.
> Wheelchair rugby -- or "murderball" as it's known to most fans -- has its own welding shop in the Olympic Village to repair dents and busted chairs resulting from high-speed collisions.
In addition to watching all the action, you can upload your own Paralympic moment to YouTube and add it to Paralympic Sport TV's YouTube group.