A new event of the Paralympic programme in 2016, Paratriathlon is experiencing the same success as the conventional sport, which had its debut in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Since the realization of the first World Championship on 6 August, 1989 in Avignon (France), the sport has gained practitioners throughout the world.
The course includes a 750 metre swim, a 20 km cycle and a 5 km race, a distance known as the Triathlon Sprint. As in the traditional or standard Triathlon, time spent in transition between Swimming, Cycling and Running is computed in the total event time, and the athlete who completes the course in the least time wins.
People with various types of disabilities take part in the sport, including wheelchair users, amputees and even visually impaired athletes. They are classified according to their capabilities and may use adapted equipment to assist their movement - for example, paraplegic competitors or wheelchair users may use a manual bicycle called a handcycle, turning the pedals with their hands, for the Cycling stage, and compete in the race in a wheelchair.
The Paratriathlon categories are identified by the acronym TRI (short for Triathlon). The International Triathlon Union (ITU) has still not defined all the eligibility criteria for the classification of athletes, and has based itself on internal studies, and also those of the entities responsible for Paralympic Swimming, Athletics and Cycling.
For now, classification has been made as follows: category TRI1 includes all wheelchair users, including people with paraplegia, quadriplegia and both legs amputated. In this category, handcycles are used for cycling and special wheelchairs for races.
Category TRI2 is for athletes with more severe impairments in their legs, athletes with amputations and impairments above the knees. In this class, participants use prosthetics for pedaling and running.
Category TRI3 is called les autres (“the others" in French), and includes participants with various impairments, such as multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy. These athletes, if necessary, may use a tricycle and run with prosthetics.
In their turn, participants in categories TRI4 and TRI5 are athletes with physical disabilities in their arms and below the knee, respectively. In both cases, it is obligatory to use a conventional bicycle, with adaptations, or use a prosthesis if necessary.
Category TRI6 includes visually impaired athletes, who must be accompanied by an athlete guide throughout the whole race.