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Cycling for the Disabled was first developed by blind cyclists who first competed using tandem bicycles. Cycling was introduced as a Paralympic Sport in Seoul in 1988. Depending on their classification, athletes use a bicycle, tricycle, tandem or hand cycle. Cycling can be competed in, in both track or road events for individuals and teams with Sprints, Individual Pursuits, 1,000m Time Trial, Road Races and Road Time Trials. These events are for both men and women, with the cyclists grouped together according to their functional ability. They are open to athletes with a variety of types & degrees of disabilities. The competition includes persons with a visual impairment, cerebral palsy, amputations or other physical disabilities can participate in classes depending on their degree of function and the skills required for Cycling. Athletes are classified in accordance with the nature & severity of their disability or combinations of disabilities and can competed at social, club & Provincial level, as well as at International level.
The convenor for cycling is Rudi Kuhn and the sport is active in all provinces of South Africa.
Para-cycling classification is the process of classifying participants in para-cycling covering four functional disability types. The classification system includes classes for handcycles for people who have lower limb mobility issues. The sport is governed by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
There are fourteen classifications based on functional disability type. The blind classifications are based on medical classification, no functional mobility classification:
- Visualisation of functional vision for a B1 competitor
- Visualisation of functional vision for a B2 competitor
- Visualisation of functional vision for a B3 competitor
Beyond the level of vision impairment, research done at the Central Institute on Employment Abilities of the Handicapped in Moscow has found differences in functional capabilities based on differences in visual acuity. This does not play a significant role in tandem cycling.
Classification is handled by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). While the CP-ISRA has an interest in the sport because it is open to people with cerebral palsy, it is not governed by them. In 1983, the rules for this sport and approval for classification was done by the UCI coordinated Federation Internationale de Amateur de Cyclisme.
As of 2012, people with physical and visual disabilities are eligible to compete in this sport. In 1983, Cerebral Palsy-International Sports and Recreation Association (CP-ISRA) set the eligibility rules for classification for this sport. They defined cerebral palsy as a non-progressive brain lesion that results in impairment. People with cerebral palsy or non-progressive brain damage were eligible for classification by them. The organisation also dealt with classification for people with similar impairments. For their classification system, people with spina bifida were not eligible unless they had medical evidence of loco-motor dysfunction. People with cerebral palsy and epilepsy were eligible provided the condition did not interfere with their ability to compete. People who had strokes were eligible for classification following medical clearance. Competitors with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and arthrogryposis were not eligible for classification by CP-ISRA, but were eligible for classification by International Sports Organisation for the Disabled for the Games of Les Autres.
In 1983, classification for cerebral palsy competitors in this sport was done by the Cerebral Palsy-International Sports and Recreation Association. The classification used the classification system designed for track events. In 1983, there were five cerebral palsy classifications.
The debate about inclusion of competitors into able-bodied competitions was seen by some disability sport advocates like Horst Strokhkendl as a hindrance to the development of an independent classification system not based on the rules for able-bodied sport. These efforts ended by 1993 as the International Paralympic Committee tried to carve out its own identity and largely ceased efforts for inclusion of disability sport on the Olympic programme.
|Men||MC1 - MC5||MH1 - MH5||MT1 - MT2||MB||TCB|
|Women||WC1 - WC5||WH1 - WH5||WT1 - WT2||WB||TCB|
Para-cycling classes, as defined by the UCI, can be decoded easily.
The first letter stands for the gender (M for men, W for women). Subsequent letters stand for the sport division:
- C for Cycling
- H for Handbike
- T for Tricycle
- B for blind or visually impaired - also known as TCB for Tandem Class Blind).
The final number is the class in that division - with the lower the number, the greater the degree of impairment. Therefore WH3 stands for the class Women's Handbike 3.
Athletes who are blind or visually impaired compete using a two-person cycle known as a tandem, with a sighted "pilot" in the front seat. Under UCI rules, a professional cyclist must not be active for 24 months in any UCI Tour in order to apply as a para-cycling pilot.
International classification is undertaken by a UCI panel which consists of "a medical doctor, a physiotherapist and a sports technician" who will assess the athlete and assign them a class. The evaluation is done in English, and athletes are allowed to be accompanied by an interpreter and/or a representative of their country's National Federation in the sport. Classified athletes will be issued a para-cycling classification card.