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Official website of World Para Athletics

    About the sport

    Athletics has been part of the Paralympic Games since 1960 and always attracts the largest number of spectators. The sport offers a wide range of competitions and events and is open to male and female athletes in all impairment groups.

    Athletes compete according to their functional classification in each event. Some compete in wheelchairs and some with prostheses, while those who are visually impaired receive guidance from a sighted guide.

    Para athletics is governed by the IPC and co-ordinated by the World Para Athletics Sports Technical Committee.

    In 2016, the sport was renamed from IPC Athletics to Para athletics and the International Federation was renamed to World Para Athletics.

    So whether you want to see athletes run 100m in just over 10 seconds, marvel at a high jumper with one leg clearing 2 metres, or a thrower propelling a discuss nearly 50 metres, this is the sport for you.

    Competition description

    The events on the Paralympic programme include:

    Track events: sprint (100m, 200m, 400m); middle distance (800m, 1,500m); long distance (5,000m, 10,000m) and relay races (4x100m, 4x400m)

    Road event: marathon

    Field events: high jump, long jump, triple jump, discus, shot put, javelin

    Combined events: pentathlon

    Sports equipment

    Many athletics events require specific sports equipment for example, the discus, shot or javelin. In addition athletes may use certain assistive devices as specified in the World Para Athletics rules. This technology continues to advance at a rapid rate.

    Wheelchairs are considered to be sports equipment in track and field events. Athletics wheelchairs tend to be very lightweight. The dimensions and features of wheelchairs are clearly specified in the World Para Athletics rules.

    Prosthetic devices may be used by amputees. These have been specifically developed to withstand the demands of sports competition. IPC rules require the use of leg prostheses in track events; however, the use of prostheses in field events is optional.

    Rope tethers or other devices may be used by runners with a visual impairment to link with their sighted guides. Acoustic devices (or a sighted "caller") may be used to indicate take-off in jumping events, throwing target areas, etc.


    The first Para athletics competitions was held in 1952 when wheelchair racing waspart of the Stoke Mandeville Games which were organised for World War II veterans. It was one of eight sports included at the first Paralympic Games in 1960 which were held in Rome, Italy.

    Over the next 20 years, additional impairment groups were added to Paralympic competition and today the sport is practiced by athletes in over 120 countries making it the most widely practiced Paralympic Sport.

    At the London 2012 Games, 1,100 athletes competed in 170 medal events.

    Growth of Athletics at the Paralympic Games
    Year Countries Medal Events Male Female Total
    1960 10 25 21 10 31
    1964 19 42 166 72 238
    1968 26 70 304 127 431
    1972 39 73 379 171 550
    1976 38 209 620 156 776
    1980 40 274 687 250 937
    1984 51 449 888 314 1202
    1988 57 345 885 264 1149
    1992 74 215 723 205 928
    1996 85 210 711 197 908
    2000 103 234 800 244 1044
    2004 116 194 766 298 1064
    2008 111 160 696 332 1028
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