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 in August 2021, 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 potentially allow more athletes the opportunity to qualify. The Tokyo 2020 medal events are as follows:
PTWC in both genders: comprising both classes PTWC1 and PTWC2 sport classes;
PTVI in both genders: comprising PTVI1, PTVI2 and PTVI3 sport classes;
Men’s PTS4: also including athletes from the PTS2 and PTS3 sport classes;
Men’s PTS5: including only athletes from the sport class PTS5;
Women’s PTS2: including only athletes from the sport class PTS2;
Women’s PTS5: also including athletes from the PTS3 and PTS4 sport classes.
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. Must ride a tandem during the bike segment. One guide of 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 assistants 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 medal event, totally blind athletes (PTVI1) have an advantage through the interval start system. The men start 3’21’’ ahead of the partially sighted field and the women 3’48 ahead.
The PTWC medal event also uses the interval start system. The PTWC1 men start 3’08’’ ahead of the rest of the field and PTWC1 women start 4’04’’ ahead.