The Olympic Games are over and what a feast it was; but it’s not done for Rio 2016. It’s time for the Paralympics. The 2016 Paralympic Games are just a week away with the Opening Ceremony at 7am on September 8 (AWST). How exciting!
To truly enjoy and appreciate paralympic sport it’s important to realise it is sport. Real sport – not make believe sport. The athletes are elite, dedicated individuals who have worked hard to represent their country, and like their Olympic counterparts, everything they did in the last four years was about Rio 2016.
Many TV stations and advertisers around the world are seeing the excitement and getting involved. To add to that, the IPC announced last week Dailymotion would serve as the official online streaming partner for the 2016 Summer Paralympics, offering 15 English-language streaming channels with full broadcasts of athletics, cycling, football, judo, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, table tennis, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis events, as well as the ceremonies, highlights from all events, news programmes and other original content.
Classification is an important part of para-sport. Because para-athletes have varying degrees of impairment, classifiers have the task of grouping athletes based on the impact of these impairments on each sport.
As an example, wheelchair track athletes may be classified as T52, T53 or T54 where a T52 athlete has damage to their spinal cord in the higher parts of the back and therefore have substantially impaired or no trunk function and leg function. Their pushing power would come from elbow extensions.
A T53 has impaired trunk movements, some with no spinal control. They would have some interference in their ability to perform long and forceful strokes. While a T54 would have normal or nearly normal, upper limb function. They 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.
Another example is in wheelchair basketball where athletes have impairments affecting their legs or feet. These athletes are classified from 1.0 to 4.5 in increments of 0.5 based on trunk control and sitting balance. Although the different classes play simultaneously, the total “points” of the five players on the court at any one time must not exceed 14.
An excellent guide to Paralympic classification can be found at the IPC website.
Are you ready for the best in the world?
More than 4,000 of the world’s best athletes will be at the games parallel to the Olympics – the Paralympics, and Rio 2016 will be the fifteenth Paralympic Games, the first being Rome 1960. It’s grown a lot in 56 years and so has its audience. The world audience will be huge in Rio even if the venues, because of economics, won’t be. There will be so many great moments – joyous, disappointment, relief. Just like any other sport.
And what we will witness will be the product of four years of dream-making. It will not be because of or in spite of something that happened five years ago, or 10 years ago, or 20 years ago. We will see dedicated elite athletes doing what they love to do and what we love to watch – sport.
Here’s a short video that recaps London 2012.
The Australian Team for the 2016 Paralympic Games
Madison de Rozario
David Edwards (Pilot)
Madison Janssen (Pilot)
Nick Yallouris (Pilot)
Michellie Jones (guide)
Anton Lee Zappelli
Tiffany Thomas Kane
Daniela Di Toro
Samuel Von Einem