This Saturday marks the start of the Para Athletics World Championships – PARIS’23 with the traditional opening ceremony. This launch is the culmination of a long process of selection to meet certain criteria imposed by the international body, World Para Athletics. In this latest episode, find out how the 1,350 athletes were selected by the 107 nations present.
Winning your ticket to the world championships is a demanding, multi-stage process. The starting point for the top-level adventure: a club! An athlete must be a member of an association affiliated to a federation recognised by World Para Athletics (WPA), such as the French Handisport or Adapted Sport Federations. It must then be classified in a disability category eligible for international events. Once these two criteria have been met, the competition is where it all comes down to it. Over a period defined by World Para Athletics, athletes have to achieve “minimum qualifying standards” in order to hope for selection by their respective nations.
What are minimum qualifying standards?
In order to maintain a high level of competition during the World Championships, World Para Athletics sets “minimum qualifying standards” based on the rankings for each event and each disability category. A minimum qualifying standard is a time for races and a distance for throws and jumps, which must be achieved at least once during the season in order to qualify.
To achieve a minimum, the athlete has the opportunity to take part in various World Para Athletics Grand Prix events and numerous international and national meetings listed by WPA, at least once during the season to validate the first stage of his or her qualification. The athlete then becomes “eligible” for selection. However, it is up to the nation to decide whether or not to include the athlete in its national team, based on a specific itinerary.
Is there a limit to the number of athletes per nation?
Unlike the Paralympic Games, delegations are not limited in the number of athletes they can bring to a world championship. On the other hand, they can impose a selection path to be selected. It may include compulsory meetings (groupings, training courses, championships) as well as prerequisites and criteria identified by the national staff, such as behaviour for example. The only limit imposed by World Para Athletics is that a nation may not field more than three athletes in any one event. For example, France cannot field more than three athletes in the 100m T38.
With all these criteria, World Para Athletics guarantees a high level of performance for athletes and the public alike. Come along every day from 9am to 12pm for the morning sessions. And from 6.30pm to 9.30pm for evening sessions.