Countries With The Most Summer Paralympics Games Medals

Rugby at the Paralympics: US versus Great Britain, two top performing Paralympic teams.
Rugby at the Paralympics: US versus Great Britain, two top performing Paralympic teams.

The History Of The Paralympic Games

The Paralympic Games were created to provide the opportunity to participate in sporting competitions to people living with physical disabilities. Athletes with disabilities had previously participated in the Olympics Games, but in 1948 on day 1 of the Summer Olympics, a sporting event was held for World War II veterans with spinal cord injuries. Founded by Dr. Ludwig Guttmann, the first Paralympics were called the 1948 International Wheelchair Games, and its first participants were from England. Its popularity grew and with each passing year participants from other countries enrolled in the games. In 1960, the Paralympics were opened to wheelchair-using athletes other than war veterans and in 1976, participation was opened to include all physical disabilities.

Today, the Summer Paralympic Games are divided based on the type of disability and include 22 sports like archery, equestrian, judo, cycling, rowing, table tennis, and volleyball (to name a few). The Paralympics are held in the same country that hosts the Olympics and occurs just after the Olympics finish. In 2016, 68 countries will send participants to the Rio games between September 7 and September 18. This article takes a look at which countries have won the most medals since the beginning of the Paralympics.

Countries With The Most Medals

United States

With a total of 1,939 Paralympic medals, the US takes first place. US athletes have participated in every event since 1960. Trischa Zorn, a US swimmer, holds 55 gold medals making her the most successful athlete in the history of the games. She was born blind and has won such competitions as the 100-meter backstroke, 100-meter butterfly, and 100-meter freestyle (among others).

Great Britain

Great Britain takes second place with a total of 1,557 medals. Given that this was the host for the very first International Wheelchair Games, Great Britain has participated in every Paralympic Games event since its inception. The top gold winner from here is Mike Kenney, a 16-time gold winning swimmer. He has participated in the 25-meter backstroke, 25-meter breaststroke, and the 25-meter freestyle. Kenney suffered a work injury that left him with spinal damage and paralysis. Swimming was part of his therapy.


In third place with 1,323 medals is Germany. German athletes have participated in every Paralympic Games since 1960. Reinhild Moller has won a total of 19 gold medals, the highest number in the country. The majority of her gold, 16 medals, is from her participation in alpine ski racing and 3 medals are from athletics. Her disability occurred at only 3 years old when she was involved in a farming accident that took part of her leg.

Other countries with impressive Paralympic medal counts can be found below.

Significance Of The Paralympic Games

This sporting event is exceptional in that it created opportunity where none existed previously. Rather than continuing to disregard the athletic abilities of individuals with disabilities, Dr. Ludmann brought a voice to athletes who might otherwise not have had one. These games represent determination, equality, and inspiration. They continue to raise awareness of people with disabilities and help foster a more supportive world for those individuals.

Countries With The Most Summer Paralympic Games Medals

RankCountryTotal Number Of Paralympic Medals
1 United States (USA)1,939
2 Great Britain (GBR)1,557
3 Germany (GER)1,323
4 Australia (AUS)1,013
5 Canada (CAN)947
6 France (FRA)921
7 China (CHN)[3]794
8 Netherlands (NED)652
9 Spain (ESP)630
10 Poland (POL)626
11 Sweden (SWE)564
12 Italy (ITA)466
13 Israel (ISR)380
14 Japan (JPN)338
15 Austria (AUT)336
16 South Korea (KOR)301
17 South Africa (RSA)280
18 Norway (NOR)277
19 Mexico (MEX)273
20 Denmark (DEN)272
21 Russia (RUS)268
22 Ukraine (UKR)257
23 Finland (FIN)253
24 Switzerland (SUI)241
25 Brazil (BRA)235
26 Ireland (IRL)215
27 Belgium (BEL)210
28 Argentina (ARG)156
29 New Zealand (NZL)148
30 Egypt (EGY)143
31 Hungary (HUN)131
32 Czech Republic (CZE)122
33 Iran (IRI)113
34 Hong Kong (HKG)104
35 Belarus (BLR)88
36 Portugal (POR)88
37 Iceland (ISL)84
38 Greece (GRE)81
39 Tunisia (TUN)74
40 Yugoslavia (YUG)70
41 Cuba (CUB)70
42 Zimbabwe (ZIM)69
43 Algeria (ALG)57
44 Soviet Union (URS)55
45 Jamaica (JAM)54
46 Unified Team (EUN)51
47 Thailand (THA)51
48 Slovakia (SVK)46
49 Kenya (KEN)43
50 Kuwait (KUW)42

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