Eligible impairment types:
- Impaired muscle power
- Impaired passive range of movement
- Limb deficiency
- Leg length difference
- Intellectual impairment
- Short stature
- Visual impairment
In athletics the sport class consists of a prefix “T” or “F” and a number. The prefix T stands for “track” and F stands for “field.” It indicates for which events the sport class applies, either for track or for field events.
Visual impairment - Sport classes T/F11 - T/F13
Athletes with a visual impairment compete in three sport classes from T/F 11 (B1) to T/F 13 (B3) as described here. In order to ensure a fair competition athletes in the T/F 11 sport class are required to wear eyeshades.
Intellectual impairment - Sport class T20/F20
Athletes in this sport class have an intellectual impairment, which typically leads to the athletes having difficulties with regards to pattern recognition, sequencing, and memory, or having a slower reaction time, which impacts sport performance in general. Moreover, the impairment of T/F20 athletes has been proven to have an impact on performance in the different disciplines. For example: 1,500 metre runners have difficulties in pacing, while in long jump the impairment makes the anticipation of the take-off board more difficult.
Ataxia, athetosis and hypertonia - Sport classes F31, T32/F32 - T38/F38
The 30s sport classes are allocated to athletes with athetosis, ataxia and/or hypertonia - often conditions associated with cerebral palsy or traumatic brain injury. The impairments typically affect the ability to control legs, trunk, arms and/or hand function. The lower the number is, the more significant the activity limitation. You will see athletes in the sport classes 31-34 compete in a seated position, e.g. in wheelchair racing or using a throwing chair. By contrast, athletes in the sport classes 35-38 show a better function in their legs and better trunk control and therefore compete standing, e.g. in running events, long jump or throwing events.
Short stature - Sport classes T40/ F40, T41/F41
Athletes with short stature compete in the sport classes T/F40-41. There are two classes depending on the body height of the athlete and the proportionality of the upper limbs, with athletes in sport class T/F41 being taller than athletes in sport class T/F 40.
Limb deficiencies - Sport classes T42/F42 - T46/F46, T47
These sport classes are designated for athletes with limb deficiencies, such as amputations or dysmelia. In the sport classes 42-44 the lower limbs are affected by the impairment and in the sport classes 45-47 the upper limbs are affected, for example by above or below elbow amputations. For example, a shot putter with a single above knee amputation competes in sport class F42. All athletes in the 40s classes compete standing and do not use a wheelchair.
Impaired muscle power or impaired range of movement - Sport classes T51-54, F51-57
In the 50s sport classes, all athletes compete in a seated position, either in wheelchair or on a throwing chair, due to impaired muscle power, restricted range of movement, limb deficiency or leg length difference. Again, a lower number indicates a higher activity limitation.
Athletes competing in wheelchair racing events for T51-54 sport classes differ with regard to their arm and shoulder functions which are pertinent for pushing a wheelchair. Athletes in class T53 have full function in the arms, but similar to classes T51 and 52, do not have trunk function. Athletes in classes T51-52 have activity limitations in both lower and upper limbs. Unlike athletes in the sport classes T51-53, athletes competing in T54 have partial to complete trunk function and may demonstrate some leg function.
For field events, the group of wheelchair athletes compete in more differentiated classes.
Athletes in sport classes F51-53 have limited shoulder, arm and hand function to different degrees and usually no trunk or leg function. This profile is, for example, seen with athletes with spinal cord injury resulting in tetraplegia. Athletes in the class F54 have normal function in their shoulders, arms and hands, but generally no trunk or leg function.
Throughout the sport classes F55-57 the trunk and leg function increases, which is an advantage in throwing events. An athlete in the F55 class has partial to full abdominal muscle activity, but no leg function. Athletes in class F56 demonstrate some hip flexion and adductor muscle activity in addition to trunk function, while athletes in class F57 demonstrate the additional ability to extend and abduct the hips. Athletes in class F57 may be able to stand and ambulate with or without an assistive device, but have to at the very least comply with the defined minimum impairment criteria.