Track and Field (Athletics) and Wheelchair Road Racing
|Javelin competition at a Track & Field Event|
In 1960, the Rome Paralympics first offered Olympic-style events for people with physical disabilities. Since that time, the number of events continues to increase as well as the number of disability groups that have the opportunity to compete.
Today, athletics are comprised of track events that include 60m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1,500m, 5,000m, 10,000m, 4 x 100m, and 4 x 400m Relays and an 800m Medley (100m, 100m, 200m, 400m relay). The events are offered for wheelchair racers, ambulatory runners, and visually impaired runners. The minimum age required to compete in the Paralympics varies with sport, National Paralympic Committee, and host city.
Field events are broken into three sub-categories: Jumps, throws, and combined events. Jump events include the high jump, long jump, and triple jump. Throw events include shot put, discus, javelin, and club throw. The only modification made for the field events is the use of a throwing chair by wheelchair athletes. The athlete is strapped into a specialized chair anchored to the ground that will allow him or her balance and rotation in order to make a throw.
The combined event, often referred to as the pentathlon, combines five of the track and field events into a single event. The particular events will depend on the classification of the athlete. A description of classification and pentathlon events can be found on the WSUSA website at http://www.wsusa.org/.
Wheelchair road racing offers athletes the opportunity to compete on road courses and in events such as marathons (42.2 km), half marathons (21.1 km), and 5, 10, 15, and 20 km races. One of the great things about wheelchair road racing is that it has been integrated into almost every major road race in the country, including the Boston, Chicago, and New York Marathons. Almost any local road race will either offer or allow wheelchair races and/or hand cycle racers entry into the competition. More information can be found on the NCHPAD Cycling Factsheet at http://www.ncpad.org/20/113/Cycling.
Wheelchair Track & Field USA is the National Governing Body (NGB) for Wheelchair Sports USA (WSUSA). WSUSA organizes and sponsors competitions for various sports including archery, athletics, wheelchair road racing, table tennis, swimming, shooting, and weightlifting.
Each year, WSUSA sanctions the National Junior Wheelchair Championships. Athletes compete against each other within the proper age and classification groups. The National Junior Disability Championships (NJDC) began in July 1984 and consisted of only three events sanctioned by Wheelchair Sports USA, for wheelchair athletes ages 7 to 19. Since then, the NJDC has grown to include more than 250 athletes with spinal injuries, cerebral palsy, visual impairments, amputations, limb deficiencies, and other congenital anomalies from all over the United States and several foreign countries. The age range for participation is now 7 to 21 years old. The National Junior Disability Championships are a program of Wheelchair Sports USA and the National Disability Sports Alliance. Disabled Sports USA, and the United States Association for Blind Athletes now recognize and support it. At each National Junior Disability Championships, competitions are held in Olympic-style events including track, field, pentathlon, boccia, swimming, archery, table tennis, 3-on-3 wheelchair basketball, and weightlifting.
WSUSA Junior Division competition is broken down into the following age groups:
- Futures: 6 Years and under
- Division A: 7 - 9 Years
- Division B: 10 - 12 Years
- Division C: 13 - 15 Years
- Division D: 16 - 18 Years
- Division E: 19 - 21 Years
Events are chosen for each disability group and age range. A description of the classification system and events for each class and age group can be found on the WSUSA website at http://www.wsusa.org.
Who Can Participate
Athletics is available to athletes in the following categories:
- blind/visually impaired
- spinal cord injured/wheelchair
- cerebral palsy/brain injury/stroke
*Note: "Dwarf" is the official term used by the International Paralympic Committee to identify people of short stature.