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The international Paralympic committee has established six different categories in order to split athletes according to their type of impairment. These six categories are then subdivided again in order of their level of disability and are different for each of the twenty different sports. This guarantees that the athletes compete on a level playing ground and that winning is dependent on skill, fitness and determination. So, who qualifies for the paralympics?
Athletes with a partial or total loss of one limb or more
Athletes with non progressive brain damage like a traumatic brain injury, stroke or cerebral palsy, which affects muscle control, balance or coordination.
Athletes with a significant impairment in intellectual function and limitations in their adaptive behaviour.
Athletes with disabilities that require them to compete in a wheelchair.
Athletes with visual impairment which can range from partial to total blindness.
From the French for ‘the others’ this last group includes athletes with a physical disability that doesn’t fall under any of the other five categories like dwarfism, multiple sclerosis or congenital deformities of the limbs like sufferers of thalidomide.
Some of the twenty plus sports are only held for certain disabilities like goalball which is only open to the visually impaired athletes. The Paralympic committee recognizes three different levels of visual impairment so; to remedy this all competitors must wear black out masks as to eliminate any advantages less impaired athletes may have.
In the team sports, the team members are given a point value based on their level of their impairment, the higher the value given, the more able the athlete is. The team’s points will then be added up and must be under a certain value. For example, in wheelchair rugby, the entire teams combined disability number must total no more than eight points.
10821 Revised November 2012comments powered by Disqus