It’s always useful to have a few interesting facts tucked away to impress friends and relatives! Wheelchair-specific info is a little harder to find but can be equally impressive. Here, Chartwell the specialist insurance broker for those with disabilities,has put together seven facts that will amaze, astonish and boost your credentials among the general knowledge know-alls.
1) Something historical. The first documented evidence of a wheeled chair has been found on an engraving from 525AD. If you want to know a bit more about the history of the wheelchair Wheelchair Information has a good potted history of the modern wheelchair, which was believed to have been invented for King Phillip II of Spain in 1595.
2) Going far. On 15 May 2011, Jackie Weeden took 13 hours and 50 minutes to cover 154 miles (247.84km) at Fowlmead Country Park, Deal in Kent. At present this is the record for the greatest distance covered by a motorised wheelchair in 24 hours.
3) Doing wheelie well. The world’s longest wheelchair wheelie record is held by Junwu Xie of China, a 42 year old man who’s been a paraplegic for 20 years. He went a staggering 16.03 miles before finally letting the other two wheels touch the ground.
4) Marathon speed. To date the fastest wheelchair marathon racer is Josh Cassidy, a 28 year old from Oakville, Ontario, Canada. In 2012, on a very hot day, he shot round the Boston Marathon in 1 hour 18 minutes and 25 seconds – 12 minutes faster than the winning time at the London Paralympics later that same year.
5) First international sports. It wasn’t until the Rome Olympics in 1960 that the first international sports events for disabled athletes were organised. The term Paralympics was coined at later Olympics. At first the athletes used conventional wheelchairs and races only went a distance of up to 200 metres. The first wheelchair marathon competitor was seen in the 1975 Boston marathon.
6) Solar Power. Haidar Taleb, a 47 year old disabled UAE citizen, designed a solar powered wheelchair to make a 200 mile trek. His eleven day journey started on November 22 2010 and took him across all seven emerates. The wheelchair, developed in collaboration with Masdar, a renewable energy company in Abu Dhabi, can reach a maximum speed of 9 to 12 mph, and has chunky enough batteries to continue travelling for a further six hours if the sun goes behind clouds. It can be seen in action in this YouTube clip.
7) Rolling across the USA. 3,100 miles across American in 99 days is what Gabriel Cordell set out to do in his wheelchair in 2013. No one before had rolled across the country in a standard wheelchair. Gabriel has been wheelchair bound since an horrific car accident in 1992. After plummeting to the depths of drug addiction he has fought back with his inspiring journey.