European Para Youth Games continues to grow
The 2019 European Para Youth Games (EPYG) was hailed as the “best ever” following the conclusion of the biggest edition of the Games held in Pajulahti, Finland.
From June 25-30, the Pajulahti Olympic and Paralympic Training Center was home to the largest Paralympic event of the summer as over 600 athletes from 27 different countries took part in the fifth edition of the Summer Games, following on from the 2017 edition which took place in Liguria, Italy.
Overseen by the European Paralympic Committee, the European Paralympic Youth Games are organised as an introductory international event for many aspiring Para athletes, with the combination of new and rising stars in the Paralympic movement leading to an exciting competition for athletes and spectators alike.
Following the first edition in 2011, the Games are part of the Committee’s aim to develop the Paralympic Movement by creating a platform to inspire young European athletes aged 13-23 to take part in Paralympic Sport and begin their Paralympic journey.
This year’s Games included eight different sports on the programme, namely athletics, boccia, goalball, judo, showdown (demonstration sport), swimming, table tennis and wheelchair basketball.
Following three days of close yet spirited competition, Italy topped the medal table with a total of 14 gold medals, closely followed by France with 12 and Germany with 11.
The Games were officially concluded during a memorable Closing Ceremony at the Pajalahti Hall which highlighted the achievements of various disabled athletes and people in Finland, while spectators were treated to performances from blind accordion player Erika Toivola and Special Olympics Athlete and Rhythmic gymnast Saga Tsokkinen.
Managing Director of Pajulahti Mr Lasse Mikkelsson addressed the crowd before EPC President Mr Ratko Kovacic officially closed the Games, but not before proudly declaring them “the best Games ever”.
The next edition of the European Paralympic Youth Games will see a first winter edition of the competition taking place in Poland in January.
EUSA commends the efforts made by the European Paralympic Committee – with whom we have a Memorandum of Understanding – to develop Paralympic sports across Europe. The European Universities Games have since 2016 included Paralympic sports on the programme, with next year’s European Universities Games in Belgrade, Serbia featuring Para Judo and Para Table Tennis.