What is Classification?

What is classification?

Paralympic sport exists so that athletes with physical, vision or intellectual impairments have equal opportunities to compete and be successful in sport.  Classification groups athletes who have similar impairments together into classes for competition in their particular sport.

Each Paralympic sport has a different classification system, based on each sport’s specific athletic skills and requirements. Watch the "What is Paralympic Sport" and "Who competes in Paralympic Sport" you tube clips for further information on the impairment groups in Paralympic sport.

Each Paralympic sport has sport-specific minimal disability criteria that athletes must meet in order to be eligible for the sport. An athlete must have an eligible impairment that leads to a permanent and verifiable activity limitation as outlined in the IPC Classification Code. For a more detailed explanation of the classification systems for each Paralympic sport, visit the sport profile pages for Summer and Winter sports.
For general information about which sports you may be eligible for refer to the attached fact sheets below or the APC Select-A-Sport tool.

Why is classification required?

By grouping similar athletes together, an athlete’s disability plays less of an impact on the outcomes of competition. This means that classification helps to allow the fastest, strongest or best athletes in each class to succeed in their sport.

When is classification required?

If you want to compete in sport as an athlete with a disability, you must undergo a sports specific classification assessment and hold a particular level of classification. Classification is not required for general participation or social involvement in sport.

In Australia, there are 3 levels of classification:

Provisional: For athletes who compete at club, school or regional competition and do not have access to a sport specific classification panel.

National: For athletes who have access to a recognised sport specific classification panel, and compete at state or national championships.

International:  For athletes who are selected for international competition.

See the Sport Class Status Glossary on this page for further information.

School Sport Classification

For more information on opportunities available for students in representative School Sport visit School Sport Australia website. Also see the below document School Sport Classification Quick Guide.

How do I get a classification?

Each sport has specific processes for athletes to arrange a classification. In Australia this may be managed by the APC, the National Federation for the sport. You can request a classification using the Get classified form.

What is the role of a classifier?

Classifiers are trained and certified officials who assess athletes impairments to determine their sport class and sport class status, according to the International classification rules for their sport. Classifiers have either medical or technical qualifications, combined with sport specific expertise. In Australia, they are trained and certified by the Australian Paralympic Committee and sports federations and work in a voluntary capacity at a state, national and international level.  Interested in becoming a classifier?

Commonly asked questions
What happens during a classification?
I don’t live near a major city – how do I get classified?
What is the minimum age for classification?
Do I need to be classified more than once in a sport?
My medical condition has changed/deteriorated - can I get classified again?
I have a classification in one sport and want to compete in another sport, do I need to get classified again?
There seems to be a broad range of disabilities in my class. Is this fair?
Do I need a copy of my classification?
Do I need to prove that I have been classified when I enter into a competition?
My classification has expired or is due for review – can I still compete?
I’ve been to a classification assessment and have been told I’m not eligible for a sport – what does this mean?
I do not agree with the class I’ve been allocated – what can I do?
I do not agree with the way my classification was conducted – what can I do?