Para – Athletics

Athletics prides itself on being an inclusive sport, with competitive opportunities available for all participants. That said, historically in Manitoba we have not done a very good job of promoting these opportunities.

Athletes at ANY level may participate in our competitions, and we have a large variety of events to choose from.

At the highest level of competition (the Paralympic Games) Para athletics, also known as track and field, is the largest competition at the Paralympic Games.  Events are available for physical disabilities – both wheelchair and standing – athletes with visual impairments and athletes with an intellectual disability. Contested events are held in track racing, throwing and there is also a marathon and pentathlon.

 

  • Track events: Sprint (100m, 200m, 400m*), Middle Distance (800m, 1500m*), Long Distance (5,000m, 10,000m), and Relay races (4x100m, 4x400m)
  • Road event: Marathon
  • Jumping events: High Jump, Long Jump*, and Triple Jump
  • Throwing events: Discus, Shot Put*, Club Throw and Javelin

*athletes with an intellectual disability are currently able to participate in the 400m, 1500m, Long Jump and Shot Put at the Paralympics. At the local level, athletes with intellectual disabilities may compete in all/any events.

Para-athletes are classified according to the system below so that they may compete in the most equitable groups. Athletes do not need to undergo a formal classification process in order to compete at a region or provincial level, however classification must be obtained prior to participating in a National level competition.

There are 6 classes for athletes with visual impairments (3 track classes, 3 field classes, 2 jumping classes). Some athletes in this category (ex: T/F 11) may have total blindness and therefore require the use of a guide. Other athletes with visual impairments (ex: T/F 13) have enough vision to compete unguided. Training for athletes in this category mirror that of their able bodied counterparts. 

For athletes with congenital visual impairments, there may be diminished kinesthetic awareness and difficulty conceptualizing movements. Clear coaching is vital to ensure concepts are effectively communicated to the athletes. Many athletes in these classes compete alongside a guide who provides them with cues/feedback. On the track, the athlete and their guide run side by each, linked by a tether. For field events, guides help to familiarize the athlete with the space (ex: long jump pit, throwing circle) and again, give them cues to help execute their desired performance. 

There is currently 1 class for athletes with intellectual disabilities. There is a wide variance of athletes within the 20 class and as such, each athlete will have different training needs. In a general sense, training principles for athletes in this category mirrors that of their counterparts. Athletes in this category may still currently be training and competing within a Special Olympics program, they may be looking for additional competition opportunities outside of their Special Olympic program, or they may simply be looking for a competition opportunity SEPARATE from the Special Olympic movement.

These athletes can compete at the Paralympic Games and Para PanAm Games in the 400m, 1500m, Shot Put and Long Jump.

As part of the classification process required to compete in this category, athletes must also register and be added to the INAS master list. INAS is the recognised International Sport Organization for athletes with an intellectual impairment and is a full member of the International Paralympic Committee.

Once approved and added to the INAS master list, athletes in this category also gain access to INAS Regional and International competition opportunities. A full compliment of track and field events are offered at these competitions. However, it is important to note that these events take place outside of the Sport Canada funding framework and are not supported by Athletics Canada. Canada does not send funded national teams to these competitions.

High Performance funding for athletes with intellectual disabilities is available for those athletes competing within the Paralympic framework, as supported by Athletics Canada.

There are 15 classes for athletes with athetosis, ataxia and/or hypertonia (7 track classes, 8 field classes, 3 jumping classes).

T/F 31-34
Athletes in these classes compete from a seated position (racing chairs on the track, throwing frames for field events). Events for athletes in these classes include 100m, 800m, shot put, javelin and club throw.

T/F 35-38
Athletes in these classes compete from a standing position (running on the track, ambulatory throws, jumps). Events for athletes in these classes include 100m, 200m, 400m, long jump, shot put, discus, and javelin.

Athletes with cerebral palsy, other congenital neurological disorders, or acquired injuries/conditions (ex: stroke, brain injury, multiple sclerosis etc. that present similar traits) typify the 30s class. There is a wide variance of function within the 30s classes and as such, each athlete will have different training needs. While some athletes will compete in racing chairs and train effectively with some athletes in the 50s classes, others are ambulatory and train effectively with other ambulatory para-athletes (ex: 40s classes, visually impaired athletes) or able-bodied teammates.

F40, F41
The F40, F41 classes are designated for athletes of short stature. There are throwing events for these classes, including shot put, discus, and javelin.

T42-47, F42-46
In addition to the short stature classes, there are 11 classes for athletes with limb deficiencies (6 track classes, 5 throwing classes, 5 jumping classes). Events offered for athletes in these classes include 100m, 200m, 400m, 1500m, marathon, long jump, high jump, shot put, discus, and javelin. Athletes in the 40s classes often have amputations or deficiencies that effect limb function. Athletes within this class are ambulatory and compete from a standing position. Ambulatory para-athletes train much the same as their able-bodied teammates with little adaptation. Many athletes in this group compete with the use of a prosthetic. Feedback and clear communication with their prosthetist and coach is important to make sure their equipment is supporting their bodies and training needs well.

There are 11 different classifications for athletes who compete from a seated position (4 wheelchair racing classes, 7 seated throwing classes). Events in wheelchair athletics include: 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m, marathon, shot put, discus, javelin, and club throw. There is a different offering of events for the various classes, with both track and field events offered for every classification. Wheelchair athletics can be broken down into two main categories: (1) wheelchair racing; and (2) seated throws, which are described below:

Wheelchair Racing (T51-54)
Wheelchair racers compete on the track and road in their racing chairs. Racing chairs are engineered for speed and as such they are light and aerodynamic. Much like an everyday chair, athletes will sit differently in their racing chairs depending on their function and what position is most conducive to going fast. For example, athletes without core function will sit in a more upright position with their feet on a footplate. Athletes who have the use of their core will sit with their feet tucked underneath them. Racers wear specific racing gloves and propel their chairs by punching the push rim. Hand speed is paramount as it enables the racer to pick up the speed of their chair and maintain it. 

Seated Throws (F51-57)
Seated throwers train much the same as their able bodied teammates, with the difference that they compete from a seated position. A throwing circle can be augmented to allow for seated throws without impacting able bodied athletes. This allows for ambulatory throwers and seated throwers to train and compete alongside one another.