Paralympics Top 3: AthleticsBy Claudia Knight -
A Brief Rundown
The Athletics is one of the oldest sports to be included in the Paralympic games. The first exhilarating events were held in Rome’s 1960 games in which athletes competed in a total of 25 medal events. Since then, the sport has grown to be the largest in the games and has been featured in every Paralympic edition since.
This year, a total of 1,100 athletes will be competing in 177 track, field and road events, all in the space of an 11-day period.
On the Track
When it comes to competing, the format remains relatively identical to that of the Olympics. Athletes will distances ranging from 100 to 5,000 metres; the speed remains the winning factor.
Depending on the athlete’s classification, the competitor’s name will be followed by a code which indicates the classification they belong to. There are:
- 11 to 13 – Visual Impairment
- 20 – Intellectual Impairment
- 35 to 38 – Cerebral Palsy Standing
- 40 – Dwarfism
- 41 to 47 – Amputees
- 51 to 57 – Wheelchair Athletes (effects of Polio, spinal cord injuries and amputations)
Taken from the Telegraph, the diagram below provides more information on the Athletic events.
Arguably the most recognisable prosthetic used in the events is known as the Flex-Floor Cheetah. The human foot replacement was developed in the 1970s by biomedical engineer, Van Phillips, who lost a leg below the knee at the age of 21.
The feet are made from carbon fibre with each layer being thinner than a human hair. Unlike other athletic prostheses, they also store kinetic energy from the wearer’s steps. This allows them to run and jump, acting like a spring for the wearer.
On Britain’s best Paralympic day since 2004, Richard Whitehead, who has a double through-knee congenital amputation showed the world his best during the 200 metre race. Richard finished the race in 23.29 seconds, powering through with his trademark speed in the final stage.
Libby Clegg, one of Great Britain and Scotland’s most successful visually impaired track and field athletes, also had a massive success at this year’s games. The athlete and her guide, Chris Clarke, are celebrating after winning gold in the 100 metre race in just 11.96 seconds.