Para athletes’ competition categories
ALL sporting events in the 9th Asean Para Games follow a system which ensures that winning is determined by athletes’ skill, fitness, power, endurance, tactical ability and mental focus. These same factors are also used in sporting events involving able-bodied athletes.
According to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the purpose of this classification is to “minimise the impact of impairment on the activity (sport discipline)”. Having an impairment is not sufficient as the impact of the impairment on the sport must be proven.
Classification is also sport-specific as an athlete’s impairment affects the ability to perform in different events to a different degree. In swimming, athletes are divided into several sport classes. World Para Swimming caters for three impairment groups – physivisual cal, and intellectual. The Asean Para Games follows this classification.
The Sport Class names in swimming includes a prefix that stands for the swimming strokes/styles, followed by a number. The prefix “S” represents freestyle, butterfly and backstroke while “SB” stands for breaststroke.
Sport Classes: S1 to S10, physical impairment
There are 10 different sport classes in this group. A lower number indicates a more severe activity limitation.
To evaluate the impact of impairments on swimming, classifiers assess all functional body structures using a point system and ask athletes to complete a water assessment prior to the Games.
The total number of points determines an athlete’s S and SB sport classes.
Swimmers in this sport class have a significant loss of muscle power or control in legs, arms and hands; some have limited trunk control. Usually wheelchair-bound.
Swimmers mainly rely on their arms for swimming; hand, trunk and leg function is limited.
Includes athletes with amputations of both arms and legs. Also includes those with reasonable arm strokes but no use of their legs or trunk, and swimmers with severe co-ordination problems in all limbs.
Swimmers who can use their arms and have fair function in their hands, but who cannot use their trunk or legs. Also includes athletes with amputations of three limbs.
Swimmers with short stature and an additional impairment, with loss of control over one side of their body or with paraplegia.
Includes swimmers with short stature or amputations of both arms, or moderate co-ordination problems on one side of their body, for example.
Swimmers with one leg and one arm amputation on opposite sides, or a paralysis of one arm and one leg on the same side. Those with full control over arms and trunk and some leg function can compete in this class, too. S8, SB7
Swimmers who have an amputation of one arm, as well as athletes with significant restrictions across hip,
knee and ankle joints. Malaysian swimmer Carmen Lim competes in this class. S9, SB8 Athletes swim with joint restrictions in one leg or with double below-theknee amputations. 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.
Sport Classes: S/SB11 to 13, visual impairment
S/SB11: These athletes have a very low visual acuity and/or no light perception.
S/SB12: Athletes have a higher visual acuity than athletes competing in the S/SB11 sport class and/or a visual field of less than 5˚ radius.
S/SB13: Athletes have the least severe visual impairment eligible for Paralympic sport. They have the highest visual acuity and/or a visual field of less than 20˚ radius. To ensure fair competition, athletes in the S/SB11 sport class are required to wear blackened goggles. For the S/ SB11 class, swimmers must use a tapper; swimmers in the S/SB12 and S/ SB13 sport classes may choose whether or not they wish to use one.
Sport Classes: S/SB14 intellectual impairment
Swimmers have an intellectual impairment. Athletes have difficulties with regards to pattern recognition, sequencing, and memory, or having a slower reaction time, which impact on sport performance in general.