Paralympic classification is a fine art – which can and does go wrong – but the athletes’ acceptance that this happens – has been an amazing example of humbled excellence .... no tantrums, what a pleasure.
|c/o Channel 4 Broadcaster of the Paralympics|
This happened last night to Nathan Stephens, the British Javelin thrower, he knew he hadn’t violated the rules ... but was disqualified – subsequently the officials have admitted they got it wrong and apologised, his throws have been reinstated – but London has gone ... as he said today – c’est la vie ...
... but it’s another day and he will just get on with training and be ready for Rio. He was just brilliant in his interview ... yes very angry last night ... he is the World Record Holder ... but again after this debacle – there will be a tightening up of the standards.
|Giles on parade|
Giles Long, a paralympian swimmer – motivational speaker, author, turned sports presenter, developed LEXI as an easy way for us armchair watchers to get to grips with paralympic classification, without going into too much detail.
The traffic light system is simple to understand and could be adapted for the team sports, where athletes with different abilities are combined into a team for which there will be a maximum guide.
For example S is the category for Swimming, the numbers tell us the grade of disability: 1 for the most disabled, to 10 for the least disabled within the classification parameters. Giles Long was an S8 swimmer.
|c/o Channel 4|
Oscar Pretorius, whose name I’m sure you recognise, is a T43 ... athletics track event, while the 43 refers to the double lower leg amputation disability category.
Within the disability games movement quite often two levels of disability are combined in races – as in the athletics races ... T44 and T43 .. where the double amputees raced against the single leg amputees (because there are insufficient competitors in each category). These joint races are unlikely to occur in Brazil.
In the field events a factoring system is introduced to level out athletes disabilities ... i.e. in the long jump – but don’t ask me to explain factoring!
Wheelchair rugby is a mixed event, though most competitors are male, an allowance is made in the team point value when a female gets on court ...
... each player is allocated a point value based on their functional ability; there are 7 classes from 0.5 for a player with the least physical function, increasing by 0.5 per class, through to 3.5 for the most physical function.
To minimise the impact of types of impairment on the outcome of the competition, the total on-court point value cannot exceed 8. For each female player a team fields on court, the maximum points level increases by 0.5.
The set up is similar for team events on the track, swimming and other sports ... there’s a maximum point allowance for all the members of the team.
|S6 classification - Lexi showing the range of possibilities|
c/o Hudson Fuggle - Studio Life
LEXI for the team sports has been quite a useful guide – I’ve finally sort of got to grips with the classifications ... and along with the descriptions I’ve heard, it just makes disability more understandable and more eye-opening.
These Paralympians, their supporters, families, trainers, volunteers who work with them, the classifiers (many are professionals, but volunteers) ... have humbled us in their achievements ... what can be done by just being given a chance ... the crowds too have shown such support and recognition for these athletes.
... AND, the big AND, – their behaviour, their sheer delight at being recognised at long last, the thanks they give everyone ... there are no prima donnas amongst these athletes ... it has been give, give, give - not take ...
|Nathan Stephens - he's only 24|
Brilliant examples of humanity at its very best ... I’ve loved all that I’ve seen and been inspired by them all ... let’s hope this attitude to life brushes off on the rest of us ... there’s so much more to life – it’s for living, not moaning, or bemoaning our fate ... we can work together to help others less fortunate.
Disability happens ... be it the onset of meningitis, birth defect – e.g. cerebral palsy, serious accident, accident while competing as an able bodied athlete, learning disabilities, blindness – there are doors that can be opened ... never say no, never say it cannot be done ... we can dream, we can follow that dream – they have ... so can we.
I know this is a little late for the Games – but I wanted to at least remember the classification aspects for myself, as I’m sure we’ll be more aware of these special athletes in the future.
Giles Long – his website
Classification Guide to the Paralympics – via Wiki Answers
Paralympic Organisation Classification Guide – see here
Paralympics Channel 4 (the official British broadcaster – not the BBC) – Channel4 classificationGuide
c/o HydroMontage – re traffic light system: Level of Impairment
c/o Hudson Fuggle - Studio Life ... swimming Lexi
London2012 Paralympics Wheelchair Rugby classification
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories