sports

Paralympic classes: A confusing maze in search of fairness

18 Comments
By STEPHEN WADE

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18 Comments
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So you can be classified as disabled by merely falling into the Autism spectrum and not having any physical disability at all?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

And you probably shouldn't be shooting a bow and arrow with your feet. Doesn't seem safe.b

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

It'd be helpful if they had a little chart on the TV screen from time-to-time to explain what the categorization # means for each of the sports as they are on TV.

For example, I found out in ping pong that the lower the number, the more difficult (more handicapped) the athlete was. For example, T2 had the wheelchair ping pong athletes while T12 was for the more mobile walking one-legged athletes.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm all for the "alternatively abled" (or whatever we have to call them these days) having their own sports events, but given the human tendency to ruin everything we create, it won't be long before these things end up in court over some incredibly petty thing.

"What's the problem? Both athletes have only one leg and are competing in the same event"

"But athlete A lost his leg at ten years old, whereas athlete B lost his at eighteen. Athlete B feels that it is unfair that athlete A has had more time to acclimatise to his condition and thus athlete B thinks he should have a head start in the race".

"What does athlete A say about that?"

"He says he has his lawyer on speed dial".

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Seems a lot of people don't understand the concept of the paralympics

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Interesting set up. I would love to hear Heinrich Popow opinions on Simone Biles and Luarel Hubbard’s performances in relation to disorders and high-level sports.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Watched a swimming race where a group of swimmers each with an arm gone from the elbow down (and with two full legs) were racing against a group with a leg gone from the knee down (but two full arms). It seemed a bit unfair as the group of swimmers with two full legs won easily.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

« So you can be classified as disabled by merely falling into the Autism spectrum and not having any physical disability at all? »

If that has a direct impact on elements necessary for your performance obviously yes, and you would be competing with others whose differences have a similar impact on their ability to perform the sports concerned.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@ louisferdinandc, I understand that people with cognitive issues can be labeled as disabled. But autism is a spectrum disorder. People on the high end of the spectrum are usually extremely intelligent. Their only issue is social interaction and reading social cues. They can't interact with others on a normal level. But they are physically fit.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I think when thinking about autism most people think of High Functioning Autism, and indeed:

“There is not a class for High Functioning Autism in Paralympic sport.

Athletes with Autism who also meet the criteria for II-1 intellectual disability will be classified in that class and are eligible for Paralympics.“

In reality people on the spectrum also have co-occurring conditions that make it appropriate (and fair) for them to take part in the Paralympics under the relevant categories. 31% of children with ASD have an intellectual disability (intelligence quotient [IQ] 85). Although being a spectrum also means borders are more fluid than this and the same person’s experience can fluctuate across categories (many advocate for avoiding the labeling, but it’s a different issue).

The full classification for the Paralympics is here (USA but other countries use the exact same table by Virtus):

https://athleteswithoutlimits.org/downloads/awl_overview_sports_eligibility.pdf r

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Channel 4 TV are doing the Paralympics in the UK. Descriptions of the classification requirements pop up on screen and folk in the studio help explain them. The classifications have always been very contentious and they do sometimes change them.

I watched a race featuring guys with no arms swimming 50m, very fast. At 30-40m I started to wonder how they were going to stop when they got to the end. They didn't slow down, they just swam head first, at top speed into the end of the pool. Hopefully they had some sort of cushion or something there, but it must still have been a bit of a thud. A Chinese guy won with a new WR.

It must take guts just to jump into water with no arms. Would you? Some of the skills on display are extraordinary.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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