At the Paratriathlon events of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, all competitors from different sport classes must compete over a course of 750m of swimming, 20km of cycling and 5km of running for athletes with different types of impairment.
Ahead of the racing - on the morning’s of Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 August - why not get to know a little more about the events, athletes and classification…
Sport Class Explanation
The Olympic Paratriathlon qualifying system was reformatted for Tokyo to allow for classing-up in certain cases to allow more athletes the opportunity to qualify. The Tokyo 2020 classes are as follows:
PTWC in both genders: comprising both classes PTWC1 and PTWC2;
PTVI in both genders: comprising the classes PTVI1, PTVI2 and PTVI3;
Men’s PTS4: also including athletes from classes PTS2 and PTS3;
Men’s PTS5: including only athletes from class PTS5;
Women’s PTS2: including only athletes from class PTS2;
Women’s PTS5: also including athletes from classes PTS3 and PTS4.
The basic definitions for each of the classes in paratriathlon are as follows:
PTWC - Wheelchair users. Athletes must use a recumbent handcycle on the bike course and a racing wheelchair on the run segment.
PTS2 - Severe impairments. In both bike and run segments, amputee athletes may use approved prosthesis or other supportive devices.
PTS3 - Significant impairments. In both bike and run segments, amputee athletes may use approved prosthesis or other supportive devices.
PTS4 - Moderate impairments. In both bike and run segments, amputee athletes may use approved prosthesis or other supportive devices.
PTS5 - Mild impairments. In both bike and run segments, amputee athletes may use approved prosthesis or other supportive devices.
PTVI - Includes athletes who are partially sighted to totally blind. One guide is mandatory throughout the race. Must ride a tandem during the bike segment. A guide from the same nationality and gender is mandatory throughout the race.
There are some particularities in paratriathlon, as athletes with varying levels of impairment need different support levels when exiting the water and before reaching the transition area.
There are swim-exit handlers who may assist the athletes upon swim exit depending on the swim cap colour, providing full lifting (red swim cap) or support assistance (yellow swim cap). There is a designated pre-transition area for athletes to collect their assistive devices (PTS2 to PTS4) or access their daily wheelchairs and be stripped by their handlers if needed (PTWC).
Athletes can use conventional bikes with approved adaptations (PTS2, PTS3 & PTS4 classes), a tandem (PTVI) or handcycle (PTWC).
The final section is a 5 km run, which athletes can complete in racing wheelchairs (PTWC), running with or without support of assistive devices (PTS2, PTS3 & PTS4) or alongside their guides (PTVI).
In the PTVI class, totally blind athletes (B1) have an advantage through a staggered start system. B1 athletes start 3’48’’ ahead of the rest of the field in PTVI. Visually impaired athletes compete with their guides, who must be with them throughout the entire race and be from the same nation and gender.