Athletics is the largest sport in the Virtus programme. Track and field, indoor, cross country and half marathon are all contested.

Virtus manages the eligibility of athletes who wish to compete in the sport. This means that all athletes registered with Virtus 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. We also maintain 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.

Athletes interested in competing at a high level first need to contact their National Federation.

The sport is managed by the Virtus Athletics Committee.


Athletics for athletes with an intellectual impairment has been part of the Virtus 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 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.

The full sport specification for athletics can be found here (Section 7.2).


All results from Virtus world and regional Championships from 1986 through to the present day are available.

Virtus Athletics Committee

  • Sport Director– José Costa Pereira (POR)
  • Americas – Richard Robb
  • Oceania –
  • Africa – Pauline Awange (KEN)
  • Asia – Akihiro Inoue (JPN)
  • Europe – Elly Schouten (NED)

 Records And Rankings

Virtus is the brand name of the International Sports Federation for athletes with intellectual impairment and is a founding member of the International Paralympic Committee. Registered as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation in the UK (1173901)

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