World Para Sport is the global governing body of the Paralympic movement and Paralympic Games. One of the biggest challenges it faces is to provide a fair classification system for each of the Paralympic sports. Classification is essential to the very existence of sports for athletes with a disability. An effective classification system should provide athletes with a disability with an equitable starting point for competition by minimising the impact that their impairment has on the outcome of the event. The process of classification involves grouping athletes into different classes, using sport-specific assessments designed to evaluate the impact of their impairment on performance.
World Para Sport has decided that the current system used to classify physically impaired swimmers for international competition needs revising. In conjunction with UK Sport, World Para Sport is funding an international research project that will generate a scientific evidence base from which a new system for classifying Para swimmers can be developed. This project will provide World Para Sport with clear recommendations on what biomechanical measures should be taken on swimmers during the classification process and how these should be obtained. This presentation will focus on the measurement techniques employed in the research and on those that might form part of the new classification system.
Dr Carl Payton is a Reader in biomechanics at Manchester Metropolitan University where he leads the Biomechanics and long-term conditions research group. His research and applied work focuses on elite swimming performance with a particular emphasis on swimmers with physical impairments. Since 2000, he has been a member of the Sport Science and Sport Medicine Team providing support to the Great Britain Para swimming team. Carl is currently leading an international research project, funded by the World Para Sport and UK Sport. The project will provide a scientific evidence base from which a new system for classifying Para swimmers with physical impairments can be developed.