Athlete classification in paralympic sports to be reviewed *H&H Plus*

The International Paralympic Committee has pledged to focus on classification to keep up with the growth of the movement around the world

Improving classification is to be a “top priority” over the next two years, a leading figure in para sport has pledged.

Classification underpins para dressage, with riders allocated one of five grades depending on their physical ability. The FEI spells out the criteria for each grade in para dressage, which is underpinned by the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) international standard for physical impairments.

This means any changes by the IPC could affect both individual riders and para dressage as a whole.

“As a board, we know more can be done to further develop classification,” said IPC president Andrew Parsons at the organisation’s general assembly in Bonn (26 to 27 October). “We cannot continue what we’ve been doing for the past 20 years as the movement has grown and moved on a lot.”

That change is not likely to happen ahead of Tokyo 2020, but could be started by the end of next year.

The IPC governing board has committed to consultation on timelines for changes to the classification rules for sports on the Paralympic programme. This will start following the extraordinary general assembly in December 2020.

Eight-time Paralympic gold medallist Sophie Christiansen told H&H a review of the rules would be a positive step.

“Classification is quite a taboo subject,” she said, adding that a review of the current rules, as well as more transparency and an improved way of querying classification decisions, could benefit the sport.

 

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