What are golbol and boccia, the only exclusively Paralympic sports

The golbol was created by a German and an Austrian after the end of World War II.

The golbol was created by a German and an Austrian after the end of World War II.

Although they are held almost in the same facilities that were used for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the logistics are very similar, there are several marked differences between both events.

In the Paralympics there are 22 sports, that is, 11 less than in the Olympics, but nevertheless they have more events that give medals (540 against 339).

The medals are also somewhat different, the mascot is not the same and, above all, there are two disciplines that are exclusive to Paralympians: boccia and golbol.

These two sports were created for people with mobility difficulties or visually impaired, unlike the other sports that are an adaptation of those that are competed in the Olympic Games.

At BBC Mundo we explain the origin of these two sports that have become the stars of the Paralympic Games.


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The boccia is based on the traditional game of bocce or petanque very popular in Europe.


After World War II, hundreds of soldiers were left with vision problems in the aftermath of the conflict.

Around 1946, the Austrian Hans Lorenzen and the German Sepp Reindle designed a game with the idea of ​​rehabilitating these war veterans.

From there the “goalball” or “golbol” was born, a sport that consists ofn two teams of three members each defending a goal which is about thirty feet long.

The idea is to prevent a ball -which has a bell or bells inside- step inside that arch and become an annotation.

All the players have their eyes covered (to standardize the competition and avoid advantages) and the idea is to use the whole body to cover the goal.


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Golbol consists of trying to score with a ball within a nine-meter arc that is protected by three rivals.

It is a sport of high physical demand, since the most trained players can throw the ball at a speed of 70 km / h.

Due to its popularity, it was included as an exhibition sport in the 1976 Paralympics and in the 1980 Games it began to award medals.

In the Rio 2016 Paralympics the gold medal went to the team of Lithuania for men and Turkey for women.


Boccia has its origin in the so-called game of bocce or petanque, which is very popular in Europe but was adapted to become a Paralympic sport in 1984.

The idea of ​​the game is to first throw a ball called “target” or “target” and then go throwing another six red or blue balls, depending on the team.

Points are accumulated to the extent that it is possible to hit the “target” or balls are placed as close to this target as possible.

To do this, the players, who are facing each other in two teams, have the option of rolling the ball, throwing it with their hand or kicking it. In addition, in some cases they can use assistive devices to complete the launch.

Woman in a wheelchair playing boccia.

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The idea of ​​boccia is to try to hit or approach the “target” with a ball.

Being a tactical game, some players can use an assistant to throw the ball for them.

The boccia -which comes from the Latin word bottia, which means ball- was originally designed for people with severe cerebral palsy, however it has been extended to other competitors with some physical disability.

In the Paralympics, prizes are awarded in three different categories: individual, couples or teams. And each of these categories has subdivisions that they depend on the greater or lesser mobility of the athletes.

Athletes from the United Kingdom and Thailand won the gold medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

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