Eligibility and Classification
Classification is an integral part of athletics for disabled athletes which enables fair competition amongst all competitors.
Please visit http://ucoach.com/video/an-introduction-to-classification-in-athletics to download a factsheet on classification and watch a video presentation from international classifier Penny Broomhead.
Classification also determines if an athlete is eligible for the Paralympic Pathway, the events they can enter, the use of guide runners, whether throws are ambulant or seated, and the size / type of throwing implements. Within athletics there is a range of classification groups. Each group is subdivided into classes depending on the level of impairment. There are strict criteria attached to each class.
The classification process in Athletics is based on IPC classification which identifies the athletes’ functional ability in relation to the event group in which they are competing. The athlete undergoes a series of mobility tests and is seen in competition by qualified classifiers.
The Paralympic Pathway for Athletics currently includes athletes from the following impairment groups:
- Blind and partially sighted - Most T&F events
- Athletes with cerebral palsy - Most T&F events
- Amputees - Most T&F events
- Wheelchair users - Seated throws & wheelchair racing, including Marathon (wheelchair track and marathon races)
- Dwarf athletes - shot put / javelin (men) and shot put / discus (women)
- Athletes with an intellectual impairment - Long jump, shot, 400m and 1500m
All events and eligibility are subject to classification. Once an athlete has a national classification they will be issued with a UK Athletics Card confirming the classification group(s) and an expiry date. Young athletes may need to be re-classified once they reach 18 years old. Apart from entering IPC and UKA sanctioned events, a classified athlete can use Club or Open Meets to register additional performances onto the UK National Disability rankings – see www.thepowerof10.info. Note that different age groups and different classification groups may use various implement (shot, discus, javelin) weights; if you are not sure which one is right, check out appendix 1 (from Page 146) of the IPC Athletics Rules and Regulations 2016.
Athletes with a physical impairment
To be eligible for physical impairment classification in athletics, athletes must have a confirmed medical diagnosis of a permanent measurable physical impairment that affects their ability to perform the sport, and meet the MDC for at least one of the 8 eligible impairment types, including hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis, limb deficiency, impaired passive range of movement, impaired muscle power, leg length difference and short stature.
Athletes with a visual impairment
An impairment of the eye structure, optical nerve or optical pathways, or visual cortex of the central brain, which adversely affects an athlete’s vision in both eyes.
Athletes with an intellectual disability
A type of impairment which is defined as a limitation in intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour as expressed in conceptual, social and practical adaptive skills. This impairment must originate before the age of 18. In the UK, there are two levels of classification for athletes with a learning disability - UK (national) Classification, and International (INAS) Classification which enables athletes to compete in European and World Championships.
Athletes who are deaf or hard of hearing
There is not a Paralympic Pathway for D/deaf athletes. However, opportunities do exist via UK Deaf Sport. Please note the standards for this impairment group internationally are above County and Regional club level. If an athlete is not eligible for the Paralympic Pathway there are other options to ensure the athlete can continue to enjoy the sport.