All world and regional records held by athletes competing in the T43/F43 and T42/F42 classes will be re-set at the beginning of next year after World Para Athletics revealed it will be introducing new rules for double-leg amputees.
The International Federation of Paralympic athletics has confirmed it will introduce a new formula to calculate the maximum allowable standing height (MASH) for double-leg amputees from January 1, 2018.
It means any world and regional records set by athletes competing in below-knee T43/F43 and above-knee T42/F42 double-leg amputee classes before this time will be archived.
New record marks will be established at the end of the 2018 season.
The decision to implement the new formula comes after a study – initiated in 2006 by the World Para Athletics Classification Research Project – revealed that the current MASH formula systemically overestimates athlete height.
World Para Athletics worked closely with Professor Wolfgang Potthast, one of the world’s leading experts on the biomechanics of prosthetic running from the German Sport University Cologne.
The body also consulted Professor Hiroaki Hobara from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan’s capital Tokyo.
Following the development of a new formula, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Classification Research and Development Centre at the University of Queensland, led by Dr Sean Tweedy, initiated a small-scale multi-centre project to cross-validate it.
“Since 2006, World Para Athletics has been working hard to develop a new model for MASH to ensure a fair and level playing field for all athletes,” Peter Van de Vliet, the IPC’s Medical and Scientific Director, said.
“After research concluded that the current MASH formula systemically overestimated the height of athletes we engaged a number of the world’s leading experts in biomechanics.
“They confirmed the research findings and directed us to alternative measurement methods.
“The new formulas, which will come into force on January 1, 2018, will reduce the maximum allowable standing height of a number of double-leg amputees who compete in the T42/F42 and T43/F43 classes.
“This will reinforce the value of athletic performance achieved by the human body to prevail over equipment and technological advancement.
“I would like to thank all the researchers, sport scientists and professors from around the world who have contributed to this process over the last years.”
IPC summer sports director Ryan Montgomery added: “We made the Para-athletics community aware of the new formula in October 2015 during the Doha World Championships but are not enforcing it until January 1, 2018.
“This practical approach provides sufficient time for all athletes affected by this rule change to undergo classification with the measurement formula this year in order to make the necessary changes ahead of the start of competition next year.
“As a result of the rule change, all world and regional records set by T43/F43 and double-leg amputees competing in the T42/F42 classes will be archived and new record marks will be established at the end of the 2018 season.”
Among the athletes to be affected by the rule changes is Great Britain’s two-time Paralympic gold medalist Richard Whitehead, the current men’s 200 meter T42 world record holder.
The Netherlands’ Marlou van Rhijn, a three-time Paralympic gold medalist, will also lose her global marks in the women’s 100m, 200m and 400m T43 events.
Longer blades can allow for a longer stride and therefore produce quicker times.
The now-disgraced South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius challenged the length of prosthetic blades worn by the Brazilian Alan Oliveira at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Pistorius, a six-time Paralympic gold medallist on the track, was beaten to the men’s 200m T44 gold medal by Oliveira and subsequently insisted that the sport had to find a more consistent method of measurements if it was to thrive.
Speaking at a recent media workshop on Para-athletics classification prior to the ongoing 2017 World Para Athletics Championships here, Van de Vliet said Pistorius’ allegations were not founded “because everybody competing had their blade length legitimate under the rules”.
By Daniel Etchells
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.