International Classification with World Para Athletics

By: Sinead Kane

Last week, I traveled to Nottwil, Switzerland for my International Classification with World Para Athletics.

I have been waiting for this moment since 2019 with a lot of setbacks but thankfully it is now complete.

The details of classification in Para Athletics are set out in the WPA Classification Rules & Regulations.

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 WPA Classification Rules & Regulations.

Not many people know the admin steps needed to compete in Paralympic events.

The two main steps are:

1 - National classification with home country - in my case Paralympics Ireland. Once that is complete International classification is then required. At the classification the athlete must undergo different tests - in my case - eye tests.

2 - International Classification - same process except you travel abroad for the same tests but this time it is by an assessor with International Paralympics.

In both situations the athlete is assessed by authorised classifiers using specific and objective testing.

In my case, the classifiers had to classify me as either - T11 or T12 or T13.

Paralympics Ireland have classified me as T12. Now it was the turn of the International Paralympics. They have also classified me as T12.

The T stands for track and the number  signifies that the person is a visually impaired athlete. There are three levels of visual impairment in track athletics, T11, T12, T13.

The lower the number, the more severe the impact of the disability. 

For example, T11 athletes will have little to no light perception and in many cases are completely blind. All these athletes run with a guide

T12 athletes will have slightly better vision and can choose whether to run with a guide or not. This would allow me to Race on a Track without a Guide as it is deemed a safe / controlled environment.

T13 athletes have the most vision out of all three categories. These athletes are not allowed run with a guide.

T13 athletes can typically recognise things from 2-6 metres.

Happy that I am now classified. Watch this space. I have some exciting goals ahead.

Whether you’re just starting out, ready to go after a PB, seeking to improve your form/speed, or are anywhere in between, Coach John and Sinead are here to help.