What is Para Athletics?
The Stoke Mandeville Games which was formerly organised for World War II veterans saw the first ever para athletic event, the wheelchair race back in 1952 and since 1960, athletics has been part of the Paralympic Games and consists of a wide range of competitions and events that are open to both genders in all impairment groups, such as vision impairment, cerebral palsy, amputees and spinal cord injury athletes.
The sport is carried out on either the track or in the field and involves various events such as running, throwing or jumping. Wheelchair athletes compete on racing wheelchairs for the running events, while the visually impaired receive guidance from a sighted guide.
Para Athletics Events
Here’s a list of track and field events in para-athletics, however for every race, athletes of different classification take part in various events.
- 4 x 100m
- Javelin Throw
- Discus Throw
- Shot Put
- Long Jump
- High Jump
There is also a pentathlon which is a combination of both field and track events competing for the highest number of points.
Classification for para-athletics
Classification in para-athletics is to determine who can compete in the specific sport and its used to establish a fair competition.
Athletes are accessed and categorised into six functional classifications in each event, and the prefix T stands for “Track” and F stands for “Field”. The lower the sports class number is, the more significant the activity limitation. They are as follows:
Sport Class T/F11-13
Sport Class T/F 20
Sport Class T/F 35-38
Coordination impairments such as hypertonia, ataxia, and athetosis
Sport Class T/F 40-41
Athletes are classified in these classes depending on body height and proportionality of the upper limbs.
Sport Class T/F 42-44
Lower limb competing without prosthesis affected by limb deficiency
Different in length of leg
Impaired muscle power or impaired passive range of movement
Sport Class T/F 45-46
Upper limb/s affected by limb deficiency
Impaired muscle power
Impaired passive range of movement
Sport Class T/F 61-64
Lower limb/s competing with prosthesis affected by limb deficiency and leg length difference
Tournament Rules for Para Athletics
In Para Athletics, rules of the sport are adapted and set by the International Association of Athletics Federations also known as the IAAF and majority of the rules are similar to the able-bodied competitions.
During a wheelchair race, as long as it does not interfere with other competing athletes, the athletes may move into other lanes. The end of the race is determined when the latter wheels of the wheelchair cross the finish line.
Visual impairment events
Guides are allowed in T11 (complete blindness) events, and non-transparent glasses or eye patches are required to be used. The athletes in this event are allotted two lanes each (lanes 1, 3, 5, 7). T12 events allow optional use of guides and eye patches while T13 events do not require guides.
Amputation and other disability events
Athletes with lower limb amputations may use prosthetics. Hopping (running with both feet, not in contact with the ground) will result in disqualification.
Sitting events consist of six games, with three consecutive throws and three final throws while standing events consist of six games, with three games played in order and three final throws.
Spinal injury events
Athletes use a specially designed wheelchair for the throwing games, which will be measured by the judges for compliance with the height regulations (75 cm total including 10 cm for cushions) prior to the games.
F11 grade athletes require the use of eye patches and can touch the bar beforehand during high jump events. Both F11 and F12 athletes can be guided based on the directions by the guide runners. They can use sound to determine the directions, and sound assistance is allowed during throwing events for guidance of directions.
Amputations and other disability events
All events follow the regulations for regular events, with the exception of the use of prosthetics.
Cerebral palsy events
Athletes use specially designed wheelchairs for throwing. The throwing techniques used include overdraw, side draw, and under draw. The winner is determined after adding the scores from all six throws.
Intellectual disability events
These events are held in regular stadiums and the weight of equipment should be modified for throwing events.
Para Athletics Competitions
Similar to regular athletics, the world of para-athletics do have a wide range of competitions for para-athletes to compete in.
There’s the Paralympics that is organised by the IOC is held once every four years, as well as the Winter Paralympics. The Para Athletics Gran Prix is held annually since 2012 and is scheduled to take place around the world, with Dubai kicking the season off in February ahead of the World Para Athletics Championships in November.