The particularities of Paralympic athletics, pure inspiration since 1960
Juan José Saldaña
July 8, 2024

The Paris 2024 Paralympic Games promise to be historic. Paralympic sports will take over the French capital, for the first time, from August 28 to September 8. Although the number of para athletes is the same as in Tokyo 2020 (4,400), there will be important innovations in the distribution of sports, with the promise of increasing female participation, protecting athletes with greater disabilities and equalizing the quota in the team modalities.

One of those disciplines will be wheelchair athletics, which has its origins in 1952. In that year – during the Stoke Mandeville Games – athletes with spinal cord injuries took part in a javelin competition. This fact made para athletics one of the eight sports to be included in the inaugural Paralympic program of the 1960 Rome Games.

In this discipline, athletes can compete in a wheelchair (three wheels), with a prosthesis or with a throwing seat. On the other hand, athletes who have a level of visual impairment can be accompanied by a guide in races and be guided by a coach in throwing and jumping tests.


In para athletics, competitors are categorized using a two-digit system. The first indicates the type of functional disability, while the second represents the degree of impairment. For example, athletes with low vision are ranked 11 to 13, those with intellectual disabilities are ranked 20, athletes with amputated or short limbs are ranked 41 to 46, and those who compete in a wheelchair are ranked 51 to 59. Also, they are separated by the letters F and T, which correspond to field athletes and track athletes respectively.

In addition, it covers a wide range of track events, except for obstacle races and walking tests. It also includes jumping competitions, excluding pole vault, and throwing events, excluding hammer throw. In addition, the most prestigious road test stands out: the marathon, which was incorporated in 1984.

This great sport of the Paralympic Games is practiced in more than 130 countries. Since its inclusion in 1960, 86 nations have achieved gold medals. The United States has been the dominant country in this discipline, standing out in the medal table in nine editions of the Games.

The venues for para athletics in these Paris 2024 Paralympic Games will be the Stade de France and La Courneuve.

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