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RaceRunning wants to be part of the Paralympic

Added 15-12-2016

The sport of RaceRunning wants to be a part of the paralympic programme at Paralympic Games 2024. The International Paralympic Committee is positive towards the idea.


Written by Kristian Bang Larsen.

An article from Danish Parasport Magazine Dansk Parasport, translated by RaceRunning.org


16-year-old Henrik Ericsson from Sweden is not able to walk by himself. Before this interview two men needs to lift him up and place him in a chair.


But Henrik is also the European Champion in 400 meter RaceRunning in the RR1 class, and with his 1.58,08 min. he is the world record holder on this distance as well.


Not that bad for a man who is not able to walk.


- RaceRunning means a whole lot to me. I am able to run, my fitness level is improved and I feel more like a “normal person”. The social aspect is also very important. I make a lot of new friends, Henrik Ericsson, who has CP, says.


The parents are crying the first time

We are at the 20th RaceRunner’s camp and cup at Frederiksberg Stadion. 82 athletes from 11 different countries are gathered for a week of training, workshops and a big RaceRunning cup at the end of the week.


All the parents, helpers, friends and athletes we are talking to at the RaceRunner’s cup think that the invention of the RaceRunning sport is like a miracle for the participants.


- In Scotland we often see parents and grandparents crying the first time the see their child or grandchild trying out a RaceRunning bike and using their legs. I cannot think of any other sport for this group of athletes that will give them the same joy and physical possibilities, Peter Drysdale from RaceRunning Scotland says.  


The overall goal is the Paralympics 2024

Like many other people engaged in the sport of RaceRunning Peter Drysdale is parent to one of the athletes. His 16-year-old son Gavin Drysdale was the first Scottish RaceRunning athlete and in 2010 the family founded the first RaceRunning club in Scotland. The sport has generally grown ‘from below’, often without any help from the national Paralympic organisations.


Today there are more than 500 athletes worldwide. In countries like Scotland, Sweden and Denmark RaceRunning is by far the biggest parasport discipline.


- Six years ago my son was the only RaceRunning athlete in Scotland who had a RaceRunning bike. Today we have more than 10 RaceRunning clubs and almost 100 RaceRunning bikes. When we take a look at the development in countries like Denmark, Sweden, Scotland and also Holland the worldwide potential is obviously huge, Peter Drysdale says.  


This is one of the reasons that they are now trying to get RaceRunning on the Paralympic programme. Peter Drysdale is a member of the CPISRA RaceRunning Committee, and he says that the goal is to have RaceRunning on the Paralympic programme in 2024.


IPC: a group of athletes left behind

The organizers of the Paralympic Games, The IPC, are has a positive attitude towards the ambitions of the sport of RaceRunning, especially since there has not been a discipline for the most severely disabled with CP since 1992. The three classes T31, T32 and T33 are not being used.


- When determining the competition programme for the PL we also consider carefully the distribution among different kinds of handicaps and RaceRunning is interesting in respect to the CP’s and the classes T31-33. This is a group of athletes that we might have left behind and lost, but RaceRunning might help us finding them again, says Peter Van de Vliet, IPC Medical and scientific director.


Van de Vliet says that many pieces still have to fall into place. There needs to be a strong competitive environment with plenty of athletes worldwide. Also a new and better classification system is needed.


Regarding the development of a worldwide competitive RaceRunning environment both Van de Vliet and Drysdale are optimistic. If the current development continues RaceRunning will soon reach the required level of competition and number of participants.


Regarding the classification system several Ph.D.-studies are being carried out at the University of Edinburgh and one of them is about the development of a better classification system. The scientists are present at the camp and have made a testing area close to the stadium.


- Right now we are doing the preliminary test, Peter Drysdale explains, and he hopes that new classification system will be ready in two years.


- But it may last longer. We are dealing with some really complex disabilities, he says.


"I see myself at the starting line"

The short-term goal is for RaceRunning to become a Paralympic show discipline and a part of the IPC competitions at the grand prix and international levels.


- We hope that RaceRunning will be a show discipline until the new classification system is fully developed. In this way the public will get to know RaceRunning and the sport will keep growing. The progress during the last five years has been enormous and the potential is even bigger – most of the world record holders are between 15 and 24 years of age, Peter Drysdale says.


The dream of RaceRunning on the Paralympic programme in 2024 lives and lives well. And if the dream comes true there is a young athlete in Sweden who will do anything possible to become a part of the Paralympic games:


- I see myself at the starting line at the Paralympic games in 2024. In 2024 I will be 24 years old and I think that that is a perfect age, the world record holder in 400 meter RR1, Henrik Ericsson says, with a big smile on his face.

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