Paralympics 2021 athletics classification: T20, T64, T61, F46, T42 and more categories explained at Tokyo 2020

Athletes will compete in different classifications of the same events during the 2021 Paralympics in Japan

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games is in full swing.

Following two full days of action, with cycling and swimming taking the headlines for the various medal winners, athletics entered the Paralympics 2021 schedule.

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Para-athletics events have taken place every day since and for the duration of the Games, with round the clock coverage on Channel 4 and the UK broadcaster's digital platforms.

GB sprinter Jonnie Peacock (centre) is bidding for a third consecutive 100m Paralympic title when he competes in the reclassified T64 sprint in Tokyo. (Pic: Getty)

GB star Kadeena Cox has already taken C4-5 time trial gold in the cycling and has eyes on defending her T38 400m athletics title from Rio 2016 when focus shifts to the track.

Cox will be joined by a host of British athletes, including Jonnie Peacock and David Weir, keen on challenging for medals in the Olympic Stadium at the Tokyo Games this summer.

Here's all you need to know about athletics classification at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Why are there different athletics classifications at the Paralympics?

Athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games have a variety of impairments.

In order to maintain a fair competition for athletes, a process is in place to assess the impact an impairment has on athletic performance rather than the impairment itself.

"Through classification, it is determined which athletes are eligible to compete in a sport and how athletes are grouped together for competition. This, to a certain extent, is similar to grouping athletes by age, gender or weight," said a World Para Athletics spokesperson.

"Classification is sport-specific because an impairment affects the ability to perform in different sports to a different extent. As a consequence, an athlete may meet the criteria in one sport, but may not meet the criteria in another sport."

What do the letters 'T' and 'F' mean in para-athletics?

In athletics the sport class consists of a prefix 'T' or 'F' and a number.

The prefix T stands for track and jumping events, and F stands for field. It indicates for which events the sport class applies, either for track / jump or for field events.

Para-athletics classifications - vision impairment (T/F11-T/F13)

Athletes with a vision impairment compete in three sport classes from T/F 11 (B1) to T/F 13 (B3).

In order to ensure a fair competition for all competitors, athletes in the T/F 11 sport class are required to wear eyeshades.

Para-athletics classifications - intellectual impairment (T20/F20)

Athletes in this sport class have an intellectual impairment, which typically leads to the athletes having difficulties with regards to pattern recognition, sequencing, and memory which impacts sport performance in general.

Moreover, the impairment of T/F20 athletes has been proven to have an impact on performance in the different disciplines. For example: 1,500m runners have difficulties in pacing, while in long jump the impairment makes the anticipation of the take-off board more difficult.

Para-athletics classifications - coordination impairments (T32/F32-T38/F38)

The 30s sport classes are allocated to athletes with involuntary movements, uncoordinated movements and/or muscle tension – often conditions associated with cerebral palsy or traumatic brain injury.

The impairments typically affect the ability to control legs, trunk, arms and/or hand function. You will see athletes in the sport classes 31-34 compete in a seated position, e.g. in wheelchair racing or using a throwing chair.

By contrast, athletes in the sport classes 35-38 show a better function in their legs and better trunk control and therefore compete standing, e.g. in running events, long jump or throwing events.

Para-athletics classifications - short stature (T40/F40, T41/F41)

Athletes with short stature compete in the sport classes T/F40-41.

There are two classes depending on the body height of the athlete and the proportionality of the arms, with athletes in sport class T/F41 being taller than athletes in sport class T/F40.

Para-athletics classifications - limb deficiencies (T42/F42 - T46/F46, T47, T/F61-64)

These sport classes are designated for athletes with limb deficiencies, such as amputations or missing or shortened limbs from birth. All athletes in the 40s classes compete standing and do not use a wheelchair.

In the sport classes 42-44 the legs are affected by the impairment and in the sport classes 45-47 the arms are affected, for example by above or below elbow amputations.

Athletes with a leg deficiency who compete with a prosthesis are competing in classes T/F61-64.

For example, a shot putter with leg length difference competes in sport class F42. A shot putter with a single above knee amputation wearing a prosthesis competes in sport class F63.

Para-athletics classifications - impaired muscle power or impaired range of motion (T51-54; F51-57)

In the 50s sport classes, all athletes compete in a seated position, either in wheelchair or on a throwing chair, due to impaired muscle power, restricted range of movement, limb deficiency or leg length difference.

A lower number indicates a higher activity limitation.

  • Athletes competing in wheelchair racing events for T51-54 sport classes differ with regard to their arm, shoulder and trunk functions which are pertinent for pushing a wheelchair.
  • Athletes in classes T51-52 have activity limitations in both legs and arms.
  • Athletes in class T53 have full function in the arms, but have severely restricted trunk function.
  • Athletes competing in T54 have partial to complete trunk function and may demonstrate some leg function.

For field events, the group of wheelchair athletes compete in more differentiated classes.

  • Athletes in sport classes F51-53 have limited shoulder, arm and hand function to different degrees and usually no trunk or leg function. This profile is, for example, seen with athletes with spinal cord injury resulting in tetraplegia.
  • Athletes in the class F54 have normal function in their shoulders, arms and hands, but generally no trunk or leg function.
  • Throughout the sport classes F55-57 the trunk and leg function increases, which is an advantage in throwing events. An athlete in the F55 class has partial to full abdominal muscle activity, but no leg function.
  • Athletes in class F56 can partially bend their hips and legs in addition to having trunk function, while athletes in class F57 demonstrate the additional ability to extend and abduct the hips. Athletes in class F57 may be able to stand and walk with or without an assistive device, but have to at the very least comply with the defined minimum impairment criteria.