November 3, 2016 | 7:15 pm | By Pants Up Easy
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve been asking yourself how to get into the Paralympics, or perhaps at the very least considered. Before we dive into the exact process it’s important to understand the qualifications and classifications that come with “getting in” the Paralympics. As stated on the Paralymic website general classifications are as follows:
“In para-sport, athletes are grouped by the degree of activity limitation resulting from the impairment. Different sports require athletes to perform different activities, such as: sprinting, propelling a wheelchair, rowing and shooting. As sports require different activities, the impact of the impairment on each sport also differs. Therefore, for classification to minimise the impact of impairment on sport performance, classification must be sport specific.”
In addition, there are 3 main criteria of classification where Athletes are classified (assessed) by a panel of two or three trained and certified members of the international federation (of paralympics). During the athlete evaluation process the following 3 questions (and answers) are always considered:
1. Does the athlete have an eligible impairment for this sport?
2. Does the athlete’s eligible impairment meet the minimum disability criteria of the sport?
3. Which sport class describes the athlete’s activity limitation most accurately?
Finally, when it comes to the types of eligible impairments that can be considered, there are quite a many that are considered, but they generally fall under one of the 10 eligible impairment types idenified in the “Policy on Eligible Impairments in the Paralympic Movement”. Specifically under section 2 chapter 3.13 of the IPC Handbook itself. Below you can see a brief description of these 10 impairments in which we make reference to:
“Impaired muscle power: Reduced force generated by muscles or muscle groups, such as muscles of one limb or the lower half of the body, as caused, for example, by spinal cord injuries, spina bifida or polio
Impaired passive range of movement: Range of movement in one or more joints is reduced permanently, for example due to arthrogryposis. Hypermobility of joints, joint instability, and acute conditions, such as arthritis, are not considered eligible impairments.
Limb deficiency: Total or partial absence of bones or joints as a consequence of trauma (e.g. car accident), illness (e.g. bone cancer) or congenital limb deficiency (e.g. dysmelia).
Leg length difference: Bone shortening in one leg due to congenital deficiency or trauma.
Short stature: Reduced standing height due to abnormal dimensions of bones of upper and lower limbs or trunk, for example due to achondroplasia or growth hormone dysfunction.
Hypertonia: Abnormal increase in muscle tension and a reduced ability of a muscle to stretch, due to a neurological condition, such as cerebral palsy, brain injury or multiple sclerosis.
Ataxia: Lack of co-ordination of muscle movements due to a neurological condition, such as cerebral palsy, brain injury or multiple sclerosis.
Athetosis: Generally characterised by unbalanced, involuntary movements and a difficulty in maintaining a symmetrical posture, due to a neurological condition, such as cerebral palsy, brain injury or multiple sclerosis.
Visual impairment: Vision is impacted by either an impairment of the eye structure, optical nerves or optical pathways, or the visual cortex.
Intellectual Impairment: A limitation in intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour as expressed in conceptual, social and practical adaptive skills, which originates before the age of 18.
Because each Paralympic sport has different classifications to determine eligibility for disability impairments there is a threshhold (minimum) of disability criteria that all considered athlethes have to consider. Sometimes an athlete may meet the criteria in one sport, but may not meet the criteria in another. One thing to keep in mind is: if an athlete is not eligible to compete in a sport, this does not question the presence of a genuine impairment. It is purely a sport ruling.
When it comes to actual “Sport Classes” there are some sports that only have one sport class (e.g. ice sledge hockey or powerlifting). On the other hand, due to the different disciplines (running, jumping, throwing events) and because the sport includes athletes of all 10 eligible impairments, IPC Athletics has 52 sport classes.
And lastly, if you still feel you qualify to participate in the Paralympics and want to know “how to get into the Paralympics” then the best course of action would be to contact the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) in your country. You can find a list of NPCs and contact information on the IPC Website. One thing else is for certain is, if you’re classified as having mobility impairments then Pants Up Easy is probably a product that can help you.