Purpose of Classification:
The purpose of classification in Para Athletics is to define who is eligible to compete and ensure fair competition by minimising the impact of eligible impairments on the outcome of competition. To do this, athletes are assessed and then placed into competition categories, called Sport Classes, according to how their impairment affects sports performance. In general, athletes with impairments that have a similar impact on sport performance will compete in the same Sport Class. The system ensures that athletes do not succeed simply because they have an impairment that causes less of a disadvantage than their competitors, but because of their skill, determination, tactics, fitness and preparation.
UK Athletics adhere to the current World Para Athletics Classification Rules and Regulations and the IPC Athlete Classification Code and International Standards (2015):
Athletes can enter any mainstream club and open competitions without a classification. National classification allows eligible athletes to compete in all National Disability Sports Organisations (NDSOs) and UK Athletics competitions (including Parallel Success events), and go on the UK Disability Rankings (Power of 10). It does not qualify an athlete to compete internationally and it does not mean an athlete will automatically go on to have a WPA (international) classification.
National Classification personnel:
National classification in Athletics is performed by UK Athletics certified classifiers according to the current WPA Classification Rules & Regulations.
National classifiers have either a medical or technical background and work as a panel of two classifiers, at least one of whom must be a medical classifier. Medical classifiers are qualified health professionals (i.e. a doctor or physiotherapist for athletes with a Physical Impairment; ophthalmologist or optometrist for athletes with a Vision Impairment; or psychologist for athletes with an Intellectual Impairment). Technical classifiers have an extensive coaching or other relevant background in Para Athletics, or a recognised academic qualification which encompasses a requisite level of anatomical, biomechanical and sport-specific expertise.
Eligible Impairment groups in Athletics:
|Sport Classes: T = track; F = field
Physical Impairments (PI)
A group of eligible impairments affecting an athlete’s biomechanical execution of sporting activities, comprising of ataxia, athetosis, hypertonia, impaired muscle power, impaired passive range of movement (PROM), limb deficiency, leg length difference and short stature.
Ambulant track: T42-47, T61-64, T35-38
Seated Track: T31-34, T51-54
Ambulant field: F40-41, F42-47, F61-64, F35-38
Seated field: F31-34, F51-57
Vision Impairments (VI)
An impairment of the eye structure, optical nerve or optical pathways, or visual cortex of the central brain, which adversely affects an athlete’s vision in both eyes.
Ambulant track: T11-13
Ambulant field: F11-13
Intellectual Impairments (II)
A type of impairment which is defined as a limitation in intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour as expressed in conceptual, social and practical adaptive skills. This impairment must originate before the age of 18.
Ambulant track: T20
Ambulant field: F20
Eligible Impairment types in Athletics:
To be eligible for classification in Para Athletics, athletes must have an eligible impairment that meets the Minimum Impairment Criteria (MIC) and results from a confirmed underlying health condition. The eligible impairment must be permanent and affect the athlete’s ability to perform the sport. Athletes are required to supply medical diagnostic information that outlines their underlying health condition and primary impairment type before being considered for national classification.
Further information about ‘Non Eligible Impairment Types’ can be found here. This document provides examples of health conditions that are not eligible health conditions for classification.
Abnormal increase in muscle tension with reduced ability of muscles to stretch, and joint stiffness, slowness of movement and poor postural adaptation and balance, due to problems in the central nervous system, typical of conditions such as cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury, multiple sclerosis and stroke.
Lack of muscle co-ordination due to problems with the parts of the central nervous system that control movement and balance, typical of conditions such as brain injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Friedreich’s ataxia, spinocerebellar ataxia.
Repetitive and more or less continual involuntary movements caused by fluctuating muscle tone arising from problems in the central nervous system, typical of conditions such as cerebral palsy, stroke, traumatic brain injury.
A total or partial absence of bones or joints of the shoulder region, upper extremities, pelvic region or lower extremities, resulting as a consequence of trauma (e.g. traumatic amputation) or illness (e.g. amputation due to cancer), or congenital limb deficiency (dysmelia).
Impaired passive range of movement (PROM)
Range of movement in one or more joints is permanently reduced due to trauma, illness or congenital deficiency (e.g. conditions such as arthrogryposis, ankylosis or joint contracture resulting from trauma).
Impaired muscle power
The muscles in the limbs or trunk are completely or partially paralysed as a consequence of conditions such as spinal cord injury, muscular dystrophy, brachial plexus injury, polio, or spina bifida
Leg length difference
Minimum of 7cm leg length difference in one leg due to trauma, illness or congenital conditions.
Standing height and limb length are reduced due to conditions such as achondroplasia, osteogenesis imperfecta, or growth dysfunction.
Evidence of significant impairments in cognitive function (i.e. FSIQ less than or equal to 75), significant limitations in adaptive behaviour and evidence of onset before 18 years.
1. Have a least one of the following impairments in both eyes:
– Impairment of the eye structure
– Impairment of the optical nerve / optic pathways
– Impairment of the visual cortex
2. The athlete’s visual impairment must result in a visual acuity of less than or equal to LogMAR 1.0 or a visual field restricted to less than 20 degrees radius in both eyes.
World Para Athletics Classification Rules and Regulations (March 2017)
National Classification process:
For national classification within the UK, athletes must be at least 11 years old and training in a club for a minimum of 3 months before they can be classified. Athletes must have an eligible impairment that is supported by a confirmed diagnosis of a permanent underlying health condition. The health condition must have been present for over 12 months, with the exception of conditions that are not going to significantly change with rehabilitation e.g. amputation.
The classification process for each impairment group (VI, PI, and II) is different and each has a MIC that athletes must meet to be eligible for Para Athletics.
An athlete evaluation is completed by certified national classifiers to determine whether or not an athlete has an eligible impairment and meets the MIC for Para Athletics.
Further guidance on the MIC, Sport Class profiles and evaluation process for each impairment group can be found here but should not be used to provide athletes with advice regarding eligibility or possible Sport Class & Status, as they are not definitive.
National Sport Class Status explained:
A Sport Class Status indicates whether or not an athlete will be required to undertake further Athlete Evaluation in the future.
|Sport Class Status
Athlete is not required to undergo any further Athlete Evaluation. The classification panel is satisfied that both the Athlete’s Eligible Impairment and the Athlete’s ability to exercise the specific tasks and activities fundamental to the sport are and will remain stable.
Athlete required to be observed in competition at a nominated national competition to finalise the classification evaluation process.
Further Athlete Evaluation required but not until a set date. Athlete Evaluation is required at the first opportunity after the relevant Fixed Review Date. An athlete may be given a Fixed Review (FR) status if they have a fluctuating and/or progressive impairment that is permanent but not stable; or have not yet reached full muscular skeletal or sports maturity.
National Classification Protest policy:
The term ‘Protest’ refers to the procedure by which a reasoned objection to an athlete’s Sport Class is submitted and subsequently resolved (WPA Classification Rules & Regulations, March 2017).
This procedure applies to UK Athletics national classification only and not WPA (international) classification. It does not apply to a national medical review request which is described in detail below.
A national protest can be submitted either on behalf of an athlete or against an athlete. A national protest can only be accepted once classification has been completed and the Sport Class and Status has been confirmed. A national protest may only be made in respect of an Athlete’s Sport Class and not in respect of an Athlete’s Sport Class Status, or the way in which the classification was conducted (please see the National Classification Appeal Policy below).
To submit a national protest, the protest must be bona fide with supporting evidence and a protest form. The protest form must include your full contact details, and be presented to the Classification Coordinator with a fee of £75.00 and within the following time frames:
- Within twenty eight (28) days of a UK Athletics national classification clinic where the decision being protested was given, or
- Within twenty eight (28) days of the approved national competition at which the protested decision was given.
For further information on the national classification protest policy and procedures, or to request a protest form, please contact the UK Athletics classification coordinator at email@example.com.
National Classification Medical Review policy:
A national classification Medical Review Request should be submitted for athletes with a confirmed or fixed review national Sport Class Status if changes in the nature or degree of their impairment are no longer consistent with their current Sport Class. The changes to an athlete’s ability to execute the specific tasks and activities required in Athletics must be clearly distinguishable from changes attributed to levels of training, fitness and proficiency.
A medical review request must be submitted if:
- An athlete’s relevant impairment or activity limitation has become less severe, either through medical intervention or other means. Examples of such interventions include, but are not limited to: botox injections to reduce hypertonia or increase active range of movement, tendon releases, Harrington rods or joint fixations to assist posture/stability, or corrective eye surgery; or if
- An athlete’s impairment is progressive and has deteriorated to an extent that the athlete most likely does not fit his/her current Sport Class anymore.
The medical review request must be submitted by the athlete themselves or by a parent/guardian, coach or advocate and comprise of:
- A completed national medical review request form
- Attached medical documentation that demonstrates that the athlete’s impairment has changed since the classification evaluation at which the Sport Class was allocated; and
- A non-refundable fee of £50.00. The medical review request will not be processed until the fee is received.
The medical review request must be received by the UK Athletics at least three (3) months before the next classification clinic which the athlete wishes to attend.
For further information on the national classification Medical Review policy and procedures, or to request a Medical Review form, please contact the UK Athletics classification coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: This policy only refers to national classification Medical Reviews. Athletes who have undergone international classification and believe they are entitled to an international medical review should seek advice from UK Athletics via email@example.com.
National Classification appeal policy:
The term ‘Appeal’ refers to the process by which a formal objection to how the athlete evaluation and/or classification procedures have been conducted is submitted and subsequently resolved (WPA Classification Rules & Regulations, March 2017).
For further information on the national classification appeal policy and procedures please contact the UK Athletics classification coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For general classification enquiries or for more information on the national classification process, please contact the UK Athletics classification coordinator:
Phone: +44 (0) 7702335861
England Athletics: www.englandathletics.org/disabilityathletics
WPA Athletics Classification: https://www.paralympic.org/athletics/classification
UK disability rankings: https://www.thepowerof10.info/rankings/disabilityrankinglistrequest.aspx
Power of 10: http://www.thepowerof10.info/
UK Athletics, as the National Governing Body, and Member Federation of the World Para Athletics (WPA) as our International Federation) will forward on any genuine concerns regarding the validity of another athlete’s classification, of any nationality, to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), if it is correctly supported with evidence.
Please find full details on our whistleblowing policy here.