In recent days, competitors from 38 countries have been arriving in the German city for what is expected to be the biggest and most universal para-badminton tournament ever staged, with 252 entries from all five continental confederations; doubling the number from the last championships in 2011.
Though the event is being held from 5-10 November, the first two days – today and tomorrow – will focus on the classification of more than 120 athletes followed by the tournament draw. Practice sessions also start today. Matches begin on Thursday and run through to Sunday’s finals.
The classification process categorises players according to their disabilities and to ensure fairness, depending on minimal impairment for a particular class/group. In para-badminton, there are six sport classes:
WH 1 – a player in this class requires wheelchair to play badminton. They usually have impairment in both lower limbs and trunk function.
WH 2 – a player in this class could have impairment in one or both lower limbs and minimal or no impairment of the trunk.
SL 3 – in this class a player must play standing. The player could have impairment in one or both lower limbs and poor walking/running balance.
SL 4 – a second standing class where the player has a lesser impairment compared to Sport Class SL 3. The player could have impairment in one or both lower limbs and minimal impairment in walking/running balance.
SU 5 – the player in this class has impairment of the upper limbs.
SS 6 – these are players who have a short stature due to a genetic condition often referred to as “dwarfism”.
N.B. WH = wheelchair; SL = standing lower; SU = standing upper; and SS = short stature.
BWF Vice-President Para-Badminton, Paul Kurzo, noted: “To the uninitiated, para-sport may look a little confusing, with athletes who may look like they have very different impairments, competing against each other in the same event.
“However, fairness is factored in through the classification process. Athletes are evaluated via medical examination – and sometimes through badminton-specific activities on court – and then grouped into classes according to the impact their impairment has on their sport performance.”
For further information on the BWF Para-Badminton World Championships 2013, click here.