Eligibility and classification of elite athletes with intellectual disabilities for the Paralympics: the role of psychology

Burns, J. (2012) Eligibility and classification of elite athletes with intellectual disabilities for the Paralympics: the role of psychology. In: British Psychological Society Annual Conference, 18th-20th April, London.

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The aim of this paper is to describe the research and the development of procedures which have been put in place since people were disqualified from competing in the Paralympics in Sydney, 2000. This involves two processes, ‘eligibility’ and ‘classification’, both of which require the application of psychological principles and cognitive assessment. These processes answer the following questions:
How can we be sure the person has a learning disability (eligibility)?
How does the disability impact upon the sport (classification)?

To answer the eligibility question a system of evidence submission and scrutiny involving a worldwide network of psychologists will be described. With regard to the classification question a large international research group was formed to develop a system based upon a model of sports intelligence and performance. This has involved the development of a generic, non-verbal cognitive test battery and sports specific assessments and observations. The model then uses a ‘bandwidth’ approach to agree if the athlete meets the classification criteria.

The International Paralympic Committee, on the basis of the research and procedures put in place have agreed that elite athletes with intellectual disabilities may compete in London 2012 in a limited number of events. Globally, over 2,500 athletes are now registered as ‘eligible’ and over 600 athletes with intellectual disabilities have now been tested on the cognitive assessment and a large data set on multiple occasions. Classification procedures have been accepted for the three London 2012 sports of Swimming, Table Tennis and Athletics.

People with intellectual disabilities are now re-included in the largest global showcase of sporting ability. They will share the podium with all other people with disabilities at the peak of world performance. This work has been enabled in part through the application of psychological principles.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV0706 Sports psychology
Divisions: pre Nov-2014 > Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > Applied Psychology
Depositing User: Prof Jan Burns
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2012 13:37
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2014 14:10
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/10891

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00