IWA-Sport athletes participate across a range of athletics disciplines on an individual basis.

Para Athletics Events

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About Para Athletics

Para-athletics is the sport of athletics practised by people with a disability as a parasport. The athletics events within the parasport are mostly the same as those available to able-bodied people, with two major exceptions in wheelchair racing and the club throw, which are specific to the division.

Who can participate

The International Paralympic Committee has established ten disability categories, including physical, visual, and intellectual impairment. Athletes with one of these disabilities can compete in the Paralympics, though not every sport can allow for every disability category. Athletes compete according to their sport specific classification in each event.

Some compete in wheelchairs and some with prostheses, while vision impaired athletes are supported by a sighted guide. To further increase the number of athletes with high support needs competing in the sport, the discipline of RaceRunning was included in World Para Athletics events from the start of 2018.


Classification determines which athletes are eligible to compete in a sport and how those athletes are then grouped together for competition in order to minimise the impact of the athletes’ impairments on sport performance. This is done to safeguard the integrity of fair competition.

Classification is sport-specific because an impairment affects the ability to perform in different sports to a different extent. As a consequence, an athlete may meet the criteria in one sport, but may not meet the criteria in another sport. Having an impairment is thus not sufficient for an athlete to compete in Para sport.

The groupings of athletes by the degree of activity limitation resulting from their impairments are called ‘Sport Classes’. This, to a certain extent, is similar to grouping athletes by age, gender or weight.   

Classification across the Paralympic Movement is governed by the IPC Athlete Classification Code and Standards.
To be eligible to compete in Para athletics, a person must have an eligible impairment and meet the minimum impairment criteria set out in the World Para Athletics Classification Rules and Regulations.

Eligible Impairments for Para Athletics

There are 10 eligible impairment types in Para Athletics: eight physical impairments as well as vision impairment and intellectual impairment.

Impairement Type Description
Impaired Muscle Power

Athletes with Impaired Muscle Power have a Health Condition that either reduces or eliminates their ability to voluntarily contract their muscles in order to move or to generate force.

Examples of an Underlying Health Condition that may lead to Impaired Muscle Power include spinal cord injury (complete or incomplete, tetra-or paraplegia or paraparesis), muscular dystrophy, post-polio syndrome and spina bifida.

Impaired Passive Range of Movement

Athletes with Impaired Passive Range of Movement have a restriction or a lack of passive movement in one or more joints.

Examples of an Underlying Health Condition that may lead to Impaired Passive Range of Movement include arthrogryposis and contracture resulting from chronic joint immobilisation or trauma affecting a joint.

Limb Deficiency Athletes with Limb Deficiency have total or partial absence of bones or jointsas a consequence oftrauma (for example traumatic amputation), illness (for example amputation due to bone cancer) or congenital limb deficiency (for exampledysmelia).
Leg Length Difference Athletes with Leg Length Difference have a difference in the length of their legs as a result of a disturbance of limb growth, or as a result of trauma.
Short Stature

Athletes with Short Stature have a reduced length in the bones of the upper limbs, lower limbs and/or trunk.

Examples of an Underlying Health Condition that may lead to Short Stature include achondroplasia, growth hormone dysfunction, and osteogenesis imperfecta.


Athletes with Hypertonia have an increase in muscle tension and a reduced ability of a muscle to stretch caused by damage to the central nervous system.

Examples of an Underlying Health Condition that may lead to Hypertonia include cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and stroke.


Athletes with Ataxia have uncoordinated movements caused by damage to the central nervous system.

Examples of an Underlying Health Condition that may lead to Ataxia include cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke and multiple sclerosis.


Athletes with Athetosis have continual slow involuntary movements.

Examples of an Underlying Health Condition that may lead to Athetosis include cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and stroke.

Vision Impairment

Athletes with Vision Impairment have reduced, or no vision caused by damage to the eye structure, optical nerves or optical pathways, or visualcortex of the brain.

Examples of an Underlying Health Condition that may lead to Vision Impairment include retinitis pigmentosa and diabetic retinopathy.

Intellectual Impairment Athletes with an Intellectual Impairment have a restriction in intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour in which affects conceptual, social and practical adaptive skills required for everyday life. This Impairment must be present before the age of 18.


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