Athletes With True Grit: The Paralympics Underway in Beijing

While the Olympics with the convention chaser gobbled up the news cycle, the Paralympic Games is running now in Beijing through Sept. 17 and is well worth a slice of the cycle. The stories and pictures out of the games rival a Phelps headline any day.

This year's games showcase 4,000 athletes, each tougher than the sum of their parts, from 148 countries, competing in 20 sports. One of those sports blows my mind — blind soccer. There's a picture of the event below, it's really incredible.

Some of the athletes postgames fortune could give Phelps a run for his medals. Almost Olympian and Paralympian champion Oscar Pistorius, nicknamed "Blade Runner" is sweeping medals and set to become the new Carl Lewis.

I was most struck by the story behind the creation of the games — and how they resonate today. To see how, and more pictures, read more.

Sir Ludwig Guttmann set out to create a sports competition for World War II veterans with a spinal cord injuries in 1948. After launching in England, in the next games competitors from the Netherlands joined and the international competition took off. Today's games feature athletes from six different disability groups with a firm emphasis on athletic achievement instead of disability.

True to the roots of the games, disabled veterans are competing this year — like US swimmer Melissa Stockwell. After she lost her leg to an IED in Iraq four years ago, she began training on her own and qualified for the games. With more than 31,000 US soldiers rendered permanently disabled, there's a push for sports rehabilitation that could make many more Paralympians like Melissa.