Paralympic Classification Explained

Posted June 07, 2016 Rio-Landscape

When it comes to the Paralympics, following the different classifications can be rather difficult. FEAR NOT! We have created a guide to make sure you know exactly how the classifications work.

Every athlete competing in the Paralympics goes through an evaluation; this is conducted by ‘classifiers.’ They are appointed by the international governing body of that particular sport. This normally takes place during major events leading up to the Paralympics. The classification process helps to define which athletes are eligible to compete in each of the sports. Alongside this by grouping athletes in classes based on their ability helps to ensure a competitive event.

The way the classifiers assess an athlete is by assessing the impairment and how it impacts the way they perform that sport. After each assessment, the athletes are evaluated and assigned a sporting class. For example, Archery has 3 categories:

ARW1.Wheelchair users with impairment in all four limbs
ARW2.Wheelchair users with full arm function
ARST. Athletes who compete in a standing position

Unfortunately, there is not a medal for each classification. In some cases, athletes will compete for the same medal from different classes. Although they may have a different impairment the governing body will decide if it is similar to a different class. The results of this are determined by a point system called Raza.

I will warn you now that this is where it gets rather mathematical. Raza is a calculated formula which is applied to an athletes score and then used to generate points. For example, it will take in two athletes’ scores that have different abilities and calculate the score; this will ensure the athletes with the least impairment will not receive an unfair advantage. The Raza algorithm was created by tracking a number of athletes’ times & distances over a range of years, and then was able to establish an average.

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