The classification rules of the International Federation for Athletics state that athletes with a physical impairment, visual impairment and intellectual impairment are eligible to compete in this sport at the Paralympics.
Classification also groups athletes in classes, defined by the degree to which they are limited in their ability to perform activities within that sport. Because of the number of different impairment types that compete in Athletics combined with the number of events available, athletics has the most classes out of all the Paralympic sports.
The different classes can be summarised as follows:
- Classes 11–13 are for athletes with a visual impairment.
- Class 20 is for athletes with an intellectual impairment.
- Classes 31–38 are for athletes with cerebral palsy, with classes 31 to 34 using a wheelchair to compete in track events or throw from a seated position in field events.
- Classes 40–46 are for athletes with an impairment that affects their arms or legs, including amputees.
- Classes 51–58 cover wheelchair racers or field athletes who throw from a seated position.
In each class, the first digit indicates the nature of an athlete’s impairment, and the second indicates the amount of functional ability the athlete has. The lower the second number, the greater the impact of the impairment on the athlete competing in that event.
So for example a runner competing in class 11 will have little or no sight and will use a guide runner to complete the race, where a runner in class 13 will have limited sight and will not use a guide runner to compete.
A T or an F before each two-digit number shows whether the athlete is competing in a track event or a field event.
So for example in the 100 metres all classes will start with the letter T (T11, T12 etc) and in the long jump all classes start with an F (F11, F12 etc)
Athletics – Marathon
There are three classes eligible to compete in the Marathon:
T12 – athletes with a visual impairment
T46 – athletes with an impairment that affects one arm, including amputees
T54 – wheelchair racers
Read an overview of classification at the London 2012 Paralympic Games