Home News Google Doodle today: Sir Ludwig Guttman honoured for his immense achievement of kick-starting the Paralympic movement

Google Doodle today: Sir Ludwig Guttman honoured for his immense achievement of kick-starting the Paralympic movement

by Mebin Varghese

A Google Doodle has been created today by Baltimore-based guest artist Ashanti Fortson that seeks to honour the achievements of Sir Ludwig Guttmann, fondly called ‘Poppa’. Guttman’s is a case of a man who did not let the worse of adversity get to him and kept on fighting hard despite the massive challenges facing him. In the end, he kick-started a massive global movement that has helped to make the world a better place.

Today’s Google Doodle is honouring Ludwig Guttman for his outstanding contribution to founding the Paralympic Movement. Today is his 122nd birth anniversary and a beautiful Google Doodle illustration puts in perspective his immense achievements.

Guttman was of Jewish origin, born in Germany and he later went on to become a noted British neurologist. Guttman was born in Tost, Germany, on 3rd July 1899. However, the region now comes under Poland and has been renamed as Toszek.

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It was during the Nazi era, when the Jewish community was facing persecution at the hands of Adolf Hitler led Germany, that Guttman was forced to flee to England, which then became his home. He was lucky as he and his family managed to escape in 1939 even as World War II loomed. He was appointed as the head of the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury in 1944.

While he went on to garner much fame in his adopted country, Guttman had already acquired a name for himself as one of the top neurosurgeons back in Germany too.

However, the event that actually kick-started, what then went on to become, the Paralympic Movement was an archery competition for wheelchair-bound users that he organised in 1948 as the head of the spinal injuries unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. This came to be known as the “Stoke Mandeville Games” and it ensured that in the future, disability did not prevent participation in sports for anyone. This later transformed into the Paralympic Games.

Guttman’s efforts kept bringing the world’s attention to his games. The Stoke Mandeville Games, in 1960, went global when as many as 400 athletes with disabilities participated in the event held in Rome. It became known as the first Paralympic Games.

For his immense achievements, Ludwig Guttmann received numerous awards and accolades during his career and he was knighted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II in 1966. He retired the same year.

Ludwig Guttmann died on March 18, 1980.

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