Athletics is the largest sport in the Virtus: World Intellectual Impairment Sport programme. Track and field, indoor, cross country and half marathon are all contested.
Virtus: World Intellectual Impairment Sport manages the eligibility for athletes who wish to compete in the sport. This means that all athletes registered with Virtus: World Intellectual Impairment Sport on its masterlist have a recognised impairment. It organises world and regional Championships exclusively for athletes with an intellectual impairment on a rolling cycle every two years. Virtus: World Intellectual Impairment Sport also maintains the world records for non-Paralympic events.
At the Paralympic Games, athletes with an intellectual impairment can compete in the T20 classification in some track and field events. World Para Athletics is the International Federation and also organises Championships with a limited programme. They look after classification and recommend which events are on the Paralympic programme to the International Paralympic Committee. Classification ensures that an impairment has an impact on that person’s sport performance, and follows the eligibility assessment carried out by Virtus: World Intellectual Impairment Sport.
Athletes interested in competing at a high level first need to contact their National Federation.
The sport is managed by the Virtus: World Intellectual Impairment Sport Athletics Committee.
Athletics for athletes with an intellectual impairment has been part of the Virtus: World Intellectual Impairment Sport programme since the organisation was founded in 1986.
It was also one of the sports featured at the ‘1st World Games for Athletes with an Intellectual Disability’ in Harnosand, Sweden, in 1989. This would later become the Virtus: World Intellectual Impairment Sport Global Games, held every four years, and athletics has featured at every edition. Athletics made its Paralympic debut alongside swimming and basketball at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.
The first indoor World Championships were held in Portugal in 2001. One year later the inaugural cross-country Worlds were held in Poland followed in 2006 by the half marathon Championships in France.
A list of upcoming events can be found here.
Rules and regulations
All competitions are run according to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rules. Some modifications are made for athletes with an intellectual impairment, such as allowing runners to have their starting blocks set for them.
All results from all World Intellectual Impairment Sport world and regional Championships from 1986 through to the present day are available.
Virtus: World Intellectual Impairment Sport Athletics Committee
- Chair Virtus: World Intellectual Impairment Sport Athletics Committee – José Costa Pereira, Portugal
- Americas – Camilla Aldeco (ARG)
- Oceania – Michael Thomson, Australia
- Africa – Kenny Kubayi, South Africa
- Asia – Akihiro Inoue, Japan
- Europe – Elly Schouten