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IntroductionInternational Paralympic Committee

Both Athletics & Swimming can be participated in despite many Mobility Impairments. They are available for most ages & offer wide variety of different categories to suite your interests & abilities.
Both Athletics & Swimming can be enjoyed on your own or in groups & can be used as:

  • a form of recreation
  • a form of exercise, therapy & a way to get fit
  • a way to socialize & meet other people. This is extremely important for individuals with disabilities.
  • a way to earn a living through sponsorship, etc, such as athletes like Natalie du Toit, Ernst van Dyk & Oscar Pistorius, who were all at the top of their sport.

If you strive to be at the top of your field, you will need to compete against the best in competitions such as the Paralympic Games. South Africa has & is regularly represented in the Paralympic Games in both Athletics & Swimming. Both sports have a wide variety of disciplines, & a large spectrum of mobility impairments which can participate in these sports.Thanks to its classification system, athletes with similar disabilities compete together. This means that it's appropriate for people with spinal cord injuries (paraplegic & quadriplegic), amputees, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, orthopaedic injuries, arthritis, muscular dystrophy & other disabilitie to compete together. Able-bodied people can only compete at a recreational level.

Both Athletics & Swimming in South African is governed by SASCOC " South Africa’s Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee." They not only help look after all our various National Federations who are affiliated to them, but are responsible for the awarding for National Protea Colours to athletes who have met the criteria to represent South Africa in these different sporting codes, however these sports are available to all who wish to participate.

Athletics

Globally, the International Paralympic Committee is recognized as the leading organization, with direct governance of nine sports, and responsibility over the Paralympic Games and other multi-sport, multi-disability events. Other international organizations, notably the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS), the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), International Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability (INAS) and the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CP-ISRA) govern some sports that are specific to certain disability groups.

At the national level, there are a wide range of organizations that take responsibility for Paralympic sport, including National Paralympic Committees, which are members of the IPC, and many others.

Categories

Athletes who participate in Paralympic sport are grouped into ten major categories, based on their type of disability:

Physical Impairment - There are eight different types of physical impairment:

  • Impaired muscle power - With impairments in this category, the force generated by muscles, such as the muscles of one limb, one side of the body or the lower half of the body is reduced, e.g. due to spinal-cord injury, spina bifida or polio.
  • Impaired passive range of movement - Range of movement in one or more joints is reduced in a systematic way. Acute conditions such as arthritis are not included.
  • Loss of limb or limb deficiency - A total or partial absence of bones or joints from partial or total loss due to illness, trauma, or congenital limb deficiency (e.g. dysmelia).
  • Leg-length difference - Significant bone shortening occurs in one leg due to congenital deficiency or trauma.
  • Short stature - Standing height is reduced due to shortened legs, arms and trunk, which are due to a musculoskeletal deficit of bone or cartilage structures.
  • Hypertonia - Hypertonia is marked by an abnormal increase in muscle tension and reduced ability of a muscle to stretch. Hypertonia may result from injury, disease, or conditions which involve damage to the central nervous system (e.g. cerebral palsy).
  • Ataxia - Ataxia is an impairment that consists of a lack of coordination of muscle movements (e.g. cerebral palsy, Friedreich’s ataxia).
  • Athetosis - Athetosis is generally characterized by unbalanced, involuntary movements and a difficulty maintaining a symmetrical posture (e.g. cerebral palsy, choreoathetosis).

Paralympic athletics is a disabled sport practiced by athletes with a physical disability. It is governed by IPC Athletics, and is one of the sports at the Summer Paralympic Games since 1960.
At the national level, there are a wide range of organizations that take responsibility for Paralympic sport, including National Paralympic Committees, which are members of the IPC, and many others.

International Paralympic Committee

Globally, the International Paralympic Committee is recognized as the leading organization, with direct governance of nine sports, and responsibility over the Paralympic Games and other multi-sport, multi-disability events. Other international organizations, notably the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) govern some sports that are specific to certain disability groups.
South Africa has & is regularly represented in the Paralympic Games in Athletics which has a wide variety of disciplines. Thanks to its classification system, athletes with similar disabilities compete together.

ClassificationOscar Pistorias

Competiors at elite level competitions, are classified by disability, to arrange athletes with a similar disability in the same event. A classified T12 athlete for example, is a track athlete with a visual impairment.

•    F = Field athletes
•    T = Track athletes

•    31–38 – Cerebral palsy
•    41–46 – Amputation, and others (including athletes with dwarfism)
•    51–58 – Wheelchair

In wheelchair racing athletes compete in lightweight racing chairs. Most major marathons have wheelchair divisions and the elite racers consistently beat the runners on foot. Read More: ....
Athletics has been contested at every Summer Paralympics since the first games in 1960. Men and women from all disability groups compete in the sport. Some athletes use wheelchairs or prosthetic limbs.

Classes

Athletes compete in various classes which group them according to their impairments and abilities.

T/F33: Moderate quadriplegia. Fair functional strength and moderate problems in upper extremities and torso. Wheelchair for daily activities but may be ambulant with assistive devices.

T/F34: Moderate to severe problems in lower limbs, good functional strength and minimal control problems in upper limbs and torso. Wheelchair for daily activities but may be ambulant with assistive devices

T/F35: Good functional strength and minimal control problems in upper limbs. No wheelchair. May or may not use assistive devices.

T/F36: Greater upper limb involvement, less coordination / balance problems when running or throwing. Ambulates without walking devices.

T/F37: Moderate to minimal hemiplegia (i.e. one half of the body affected - arm and leg on same side). Good functional ability in non affected side. Walks / runs without assistive devices, but with a limp.

T/F38: Minimal hemiplegia. May have minimal coordination problems, good balance. Runs and jumps freely

T40: Led Autres- French for "The Others"- disabilities that do not fall into any specific categories, for example Dwarfism. Height limit, Males 145cm, Females 140cm.

T42: Single leg, above or through knee amputation. Combined lower plus upper limb amputations. Minimal disability.

T43: Double leg, below knee amputation. Combined lower plus upper limb amputations. Normal function in throwing arm.

T44: Single leg below knee amputation. Combined lower plus upper limb amputations. Ambulant with moderately reduced function in one or both lower limbs.

T45: Double arm above elbow. Double arm below elbow

T46: Single arm, above elbow. Single arm, below elbow. Normal function in both lower limbs. Other impairments in trunk. Upper limb function in throwing.

T52: Damage to spinal cord in the higher parts of the back. Substantially impaired or no trunk function; no leg function. Pushing power comes from elbow extensions.

T53: Impaired trunk movements, some with no spinal control. Some interference in their ability to perform long and forceful strokes and the ability to rapidly grasp and release the pushing rim of the wheel.

T54: Have normal or nearly normal upper limb function. May have no upper trunk movements and when pushing, the trunk is usually lying on the legs. Those with almost normal trunk function are able to perform long and forceful strokes. Double above the knee amputations.

F52: Limited arm function. Difficulty gripping with non-throwing arm.
Shot - Unable to form a fist and therefore do not usually have finger contact with the shot at the release point. Discus - Have difficulty placing fingers over the edge of the discus. Javelin - Usually grip the Javelin between the index and middle fingers, or between the middle and ring fingers.

F53: Have nearly normal grip with non-throwing arm.

Shot - Usually a good fist can be made. Can spread fingers apart and can 'grasp' the shot put when throwing. Discus - Have good finger function to hold the discus and may be able to impart spin on the discus. Are able to spread and close the fingers, but not with normal power. Javelin - Usually grip javelin between the thumb and the index finger. Have ability to hold javelin.

F54: Normal arm function; no trunk or leg function. Shot, Discus and Javelin - Have no sitting balance and usually hold on to part of chair whilst throwing

F55: Some trunk function; no leg function. Fair to good sitting balance.

F56: Trunk function with some upper leg function. Good balance and movements backwards and forwards.

F57: Usually one 'good' leg and one 'bad' leg. Good movements backwards and forwards, usually to one side. Can raise from a sitting to a standing position with assistance during the throw.

F58: Seated. Better function than F57 athletes, but not enough to stand to throw. Usually similar impairment in both legs.

Swimming

Introduction

Paralympic swimming or swimming for disabled is an adaptation of the sport of swimming for athletes with disabilities. Paralympic swimming is contested not only at the Summer Paralympic Games, but at disabled sports competitions throughout the world. Swimming was one of the first organised sports for people with disabilities, and was contested at the first Summer Paralympics in 1960. Both the rules for the sport and approval of classifications were the responsibility of the Fédération International de Natation Amateur (FINA) until 1992, when the International Paralympic Committee took over the governance of classification. As of 2012, people with visual, physical and intellectual disabilities are eligible to compete in the sport. The classification system was originally based on medical criteria, but has since moved to one largely based on functional disability to make para-swimming more competitive. The sport is currently moving towards an evidence-based classification system. The sport is governed by the International Paralympic Committee, hence the name of "Paralympic" swimming.

Rules for the sport are adapted from those set forth by the International Swimming Federation (FINA). The majority of rules for Paralympic swimming are the same as those for able-bodied competitions. Significant differences include the starting position. Competitors may start a race by standing on a platform and diving into the pool, as in able-bodied swimming, or by sitting on the platform and diving in, or they may start the race in the water.

To ensure competition is fair and equal, all Paralympic sports have a system in place which ensures that winning is determined by skill, fitness, power, endurance, tactical ability and mental focus, the same factors that account for success in sport for able bodied athletes.

This process is called classification and its purpose is to minimise the impact of impairment on the activity (sport discipline). Having an impairment thus is not sufficient. The impact of that impairment on the sport must be proved. In IPC Swimming, athletes are grouped by the degree of activity limitation resulting from an impairment. These groups are called ‘sport classes’. The process of classification determines which athletes are eligible to compete in IPC Swimming and how athletes are grouped together for competition.

Classification is sport-specific because an impairment affects the ability to perform in different sports to a different extent. As a consequence, an athlete may meet the criteria in one sport, but may not meet the criteria in another sport.

Classification Process

During the classification process, classifiers evaluate factors including whether a swimmer's physical limitations require him or her to start in the water, and how the swimmer enters the water in competition. A two-person panel that includes at least one person with a medical background handles classification at international competitions. Classifiers are required to be familiar with the type of disability they are classifying, whether physical, visual or intellectual. Classification by national sports bodies mirrors the international classification process, conducted by nationally-recognised IPC classifiers.

Swimmers are required to disclose any medications they regularly use, and provide detailed records of their medical history if a classifier deems them relevant. They are allowed to have someone familiar with their swimming limitations present during the process. The process includes a physical assessment, observation assessment, and a functional assessment that may include performance in the pool. Swimmers with visual impairment do not require the functional and observational components of assessment. If a swimmer intentionally misrepresents his or her disability, he or she is barred from the classification process for a minimum of two years, and is unable to compete.

If swimmers do not agree with their classifications, they can appeal through the IPC Board of Appeal on Classification, which is the body recognised by IPC Swimming. Formal processes exist for how to do this in both non-competition and competition periods.

Classification

IPC Swimming caters for three impairment groups - physical, visual and intellectual.

Physical disabilities of Paralympic swimmers include:

  • single or multiple limb loss (through birth defects and/or amputation)
  • cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries (leading to paralysis or disability in limb coordination)
  • dwarfism, and disabilities which impair the use of joints.

An athlete’s classification may change for different swimming strokes, because the nature of their impairment may affect their ability to perform a particular stroke.

Swimmers are classified according to the type and extent of their disability. The classification system allows swimmers to compete against others with a similar level of function.

The most severely affected are in class S1: these swimmers are normally use wheelchairs outside of the pool. In the case of the breaststroke, for example, the hand and the hip play a crucial role. Because of this, a swimmer may compete in one class for one stroke and a different class for another. It also means that swimmers with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries and limb deficiencies may compete against each other.

Sport Classes

The sport class names in swimming consist of a prefix “S” or “SB” and a number. The prefixes stand for the strokes and the number indicates the sport classes.

The prefixes stand for:

• S: freestyle, butterfly and backstroke events

• SB: breaststroke

• SM: individual medley. The prefix “SM” is given to athletes competing in individual medley events. It is not a sports class, but an entry index and calculated as (3xS + SB)/4; for classes S1-4 who have a 3-discipline medley, the formula is (2S + SB)/3).

Sport Classes S1-S10 physical impairment

There are ten different sport classes for athletes with physical impairment, numbered 1-10. A lower number indicates a more severe activity limitation than a higher number.

Athletes with different impairments compete against each other, because sport classes are allocated based on the impact the impairment has on swimming, rather than on the impairment itself.

To evaluate the impact of impairments on swimming, classifiers assess all functional body structures using a point system and ask the athlete to complete a water assessment. The total number of points then determines the athlete’s S and SB sport classes. Due to the different demands of S and SB events, swimmers are often allocated different S and SB sport classes. The SM sport class is calculated from the S and SB sport class.

The following are general examples of impairments and resulting functional abilities described in each sport class profiles. The below combinations of S and SB sport classes are the most common combinations, but it is possible that that athlete has another combination of sport classes, for example S7 and SB 7.

S1 SB1

Swimmers in this sport class have a significant loss of muscle power or control in legs, arms and hands. Some athletes also have limited trunk control. This may be caused by tetraplegia, for example. The swimmers in this classification as having: "very severe coordination problems in four limbs or [having] no use of their legs, trunk, hands and minimal use of their shoulders only. These swimmers usually only swim on their back. Swimmers in this class would usually be wheelchair bound and may be dependent on others for their everyday needs."

50m, 100m, and 200m Freestyle, 50m Backstroke, 50m Butterfly, 50m Breaststroke, and 150m Individual Medley are typically raced in this class.

S2 SB1

Swimmers in this sport class mainly rely on their arms for swimming. Their hand, trunk and leg function is limited due to tretraplegia or co-ordination problems. The swimmers in this classification are described as being "able to use their arms with no use of their hands, legs or trunk, or [having] severe coordination problems in four limbs. Similar disabilities to Class 1 however these athletes would have more propulsion by use of their arms or legs."

50m, 100m, and 200m Freestyle, 50m Backstroke, 50m Butterfly, 50m Breaststroke, and 150m Individual Medley are typically raced in this class.

S3 SB2

This sport class includes athletes with amputations of both arms and legs. Swimmers with reasonable arm strokes but no use of their legs or trunk and swimmers with severe co-ordination problems in all limbs are also included in this sport class. The swimmers in this classification are described as having: "reasonable arm strokes but no use of their legs or trunk; ... severe coordination problems in all limbs ... [or] severe limb loss in four limbs. Swimmers in this class again have increased ability when compared to those in Class S2."

50m, 100m, and 200m Freestyle, 50m Backstroke, 50m Butterfly, 50m Breaststroke, and 150m Individual Medley are typically raced in this class.

S4 SB3

Swimmers who can use their arms and have fair function in their hands, but who cannot use their trunk or legs would swim in this sport class. Athletes with amputations of three limbs could also swim in this sport class. The swimmers in this classification are described as having" use of their arms and have minimal weakness in their hands but have no use of their trunk or legs; Swimmers with coordination problems affecting all limbs but predominantly in the legs; Swimmers with limb loss to 3 limbs. Increasing ability compared to Class S3."

50m, 100m, and 200m Freestyle, 50m Backstroke, 50m Butterfly, 50m Breaststroke, and 150m Individual Medley are typically raced in this class.

S5 SB4

Swimmers with short stature and an additional impairment, with loss of control over one side of their body (hemiplegia) or with paraplegia compete in this sport class. The swimmers in this classification are described as having "full use of their arms and hands but no trunk or leg muscles; Swimmers with coordination problems."

50m, 100m, and 200m Freestyle, 50m Backstroke, 50m Butterfly, 100m Breaststroke, and 200m Individual Medley events are typically raced in this class.

S6 SB5

This sport class includes swimmers with short stature or amputations of both arms, or moderate co-ordination problems on one side of their body, for example. The swimmers in this classification are described as having: "full use of their arms and hands, some trunk control but no useful leg muscles; Swimmers with coordination problems (usually these athletes walk); Swimmers with major limb loss of 2 limbs; Little People / Dwarfs (O 130cm females & O 137cm males)."

50m, 100m, 200m, and 400m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke, 50m Butterfly, 100m Breaststroke, and 200m Individual Medley are typically raced in this class.

S7 SB6

This sport class is designated to athletes with one leg and one arm amputation on opposite sides, or a paralysis of one arm and one leg on the same side. Moreover, swimmers with full control over arms and trunk and some leg function can compete in this class.

The swimmers in this classification are described as having: "full use of their arms and trunk with some leg function; Coordination or weakness problems on the same side of the body; Limb loss of 2 limbs."

50m, 100m, and 400m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke, 50m Butterfly, 100m Breaststroke, and 200m Individual Medley are typically raced in this class.

S8 SB7

Swimmers who have an amputation of one arm are eligible to compete in this sport class. Also, athletes with significant restrictions across hip, knee and ankle joints could compete in this sport class. The swimmers in this classification are described as having: "full use of their arms and trunk with some leg function; Swimmers with coordination problems mainly in the lower limbs; Both legs amputated just above or just below the knee; Single above elbow amputation."

50m, 100m, and 400m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke, 100m Butterfly, 100m Breaststroke, and 200m Individual Medley are typically raced in this class.

S9 SB8

Athletes in this sport class, for example, swim with joint restrictions in one leg or with double below-the-knee amputations.

The swimmers in this classification are described as having: "severe weakness in one leg only; ... very slight coordination problems; ... [or] one limb loss. Unless there is an underlying medical condition usually all of these athletes will start out of the water."

50m, 100m, and 400m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke, 100m Butterfly, 100m Breaststroke, and 200m Individual Medley are typically raced in this class.

Natalie Du Toit has competed in this class.

S10 SB9

This class describes minimal physical impairments of eligible swimmers. These include the loss of one hand or a movement restriction in one hip joint. The swimmers in this classification are described as having: "very minimal weakness affecting the legs; ... [having] restriction of hip joint movement; ... [having] both feet deformed; ... [having] one leg amputated below the knee; ... [or] missing one hand. This is the class with the most physical ability."

50m, 100m, and 400m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke, 100m Butterfly, 100m Breaststroke and 200m Individual Medley are typically raced in this class.

Rules

The general rules for Paralympic swimming are based on those intended for able-bodied competitors. The rules regarding strokes, turns and the length of time that swimmers may remain under water are similar to those for the Olympic Games.

Swimming comprises medal events in Freestyle, Backstroke, Butterfly and Breaststroke across distances that range from 50m to 400m.

Races take place in a standard 50m pool, with swimmers starting in a variety of different ways:

  • a standing start, using a dive start
  • sitting on the starting platform,
  • in the water.

The start used is most usually dependant on the degree of functionality the athlete has.

History

Swimming was one of the eight sports contested in the first Paralympics, at the 1960 Summer Paralympics in Rome. The rules for the sport and for the approval of swimmers' classifications were set by the Fédération International de Natation Amateur (FINA). In 1992, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) formally became the governing body for disability swimming. Four different sporting bodies, the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), International Sports Federation of the Disabled (ISOD), International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (ISMWSF) and the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CP-ISRA), assisted the IPC in governing swimming at the 1992 Summer Paralympics. The IPC Classification Code and IPC Swimming govern the classification process. Classification of swimmers is performed by classifiers that are recognised by the IPC.

The earliest classification system for para-swimming was created during the 1940s. At this time, swimmers were classified based on their medical conditions. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the classification system was set up as a series of "handicaps". In an effort to clearly describe disabilities and promote fairness, the number of classifications ballooned. This made organizing competitive events difficult as there were too few people in each classification.

In 1974 a swimming classification system by the name of BSNW was developed in Germany that stayed in use until 1982. This system had seven classifications. There was a CP class for athletes with hemispasticity who would also compete in the same class against competitors who were single arm above the elbow amputees, had double-arm dysmelia type ectromelia, had single arm paralysis or had a fixed shoulder joint. There was an intellectual disability class called Class J, and a Class H for people with severe disabilities. Events included swimming races from 50 to 1500 metres. The system was later expanded to include nine classes before it was discontinued. The BSNW system did not gain international support, and was only used inside Germany. It was discarded because of a need to have athletes classified for international competitions.

In 1983, classification for swimmers with cerebral palsy was governed by CP-ISRA.

There were five cerebral palsy classifications.

  • Class 1 competitors could compete in the 25 metre freestyle event with flotation devices with or without flotation devices.
  • Class 2 competitors could compete in the same events, but only against class 2 competitors.

That year, 80 to 85 per cent of all competitors with cerebral palsy competed in the same classification in international competitions.

Classification for swimming relied on a points system to assess the severity of physical disability without considering athlete functionality specifically as it applied to the ability to swim a particular stroke. This caused problems because certain types of disability had a greater negative impact on swimming than others, and the point system did not directly address functional ability. In 1990 the IPC decided to reduce the number of classifications, as a result, the number of swimming classifications dropped from 31 at Seoul in 1988 to 10 at the 1992 Summer Paralympics in Barcelona.

Going into the 1992 Summer Paralympics, the International Coordinating Committee and the Technical Committee of the IPC push for a move towards a functional classification system. The Games were the first ones where swimmers of different types of disabilities competed against each other, swimmers had a guaranteed right to appeal their classification.

The move to functional classification coincided with the rise of sports science. The first detailed international swimming sport science project was conducted at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. This was followed by a similar project at the 1992 Summer Paralympics in Barcelona. These studies provided an increasingly detailed understanding of the factors involved in high performance swimming. Henceforth sports science became the driver of both performance and classification.

Ahead of the 2000 Summer Paralympics in Sydney, changes were made in classification for the breaststroke, bringing the total number of functional classifications down from ten that had competed in Atlanta to nine.

References

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