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Are you up to speed on the Paralympic classifications?

Posted at 5:30 pm, August 29, 2012 in Olympics & Paralympics

They are beginning tonight but how prepared are you for the Paralympics? With such a range of ability and disability throughout the sports, officials constantly aim to create an environment of equal opportunity, and to do this they use a complicated classification system that we have been trying to get our head around. The classifications differ from sport to sport, but below are the key points you should keep in mind.

Some sports do not separate athletes through classifications:

– Several sports played by the visually impaired do not require individual classifications but may require additional equipment (such as blindfolds) to ensure 100% fairness.

–  Some sports require classifications so that rules and regulations can be adjusted according to the athlete’s circumstances, eg. Judo: all athletes compete together but blind athletes have a red circle sewn onto their sleeves so the officials can adjust rulings accordingly.

Other sports feature athletes with various levels of disability and thus, each athlete is placed within a classification:

– Most individual sports are split into multiple events as a result of classifications resulting in multiple events and medals. Archery, for example, has three:

ST – athletes compete from a standing position
W1 – athletes compete from a seated position and have an impairment that affects their arms, legs and trunk
W2 – athletes compete from a seated position and have an impairment that affects their legs and trunk

– For team sports, there must be a certain number of athletes of each classification to ensure the teams’ abilities are even.

If you’d been wondering how there were fewer sports but more medals up for grabs, now you know… Carly-Ann Clements

See more examples of the classification system; find out more about the Paralympics

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