IWBF, the international governing body for the sport of wheelchair basketball, has collaborated with British Wheelchair Basketball to commission Loughborough University to undertake a research project on their new minimum impairment criteria (MIC).
The new minimum impairment criteria will be part of a revised set of IWBF Classification Rules, which are being implemented to ensure compliance with the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Athlete Classification Code.
The Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport at Loughborough University, who are renowned for their work in Paralympic sport and classification, will lead on the research project to create a scientific evidence base for the new minimum impairment criteria.
IWBF Secretary General, Norbert Kucera, said:
“Classification is the cornerstone of our sport and it is very important for us to ensure that the creation of the new minimum impairment criteria within our Classification Rules has been supported and underpinned by evidence-based research. IWBF is delighted to have been able to appoint the team at Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport to lead on this piece of work for us.
“I would like to thank British Wheelchair Basketball for not only assisting financially but also in establishing the connection with Loughborough University. Our aim is to ensure we have thorough and fit-for-purpose Classification Rules that are compliant with the IPC Athlete Classification Code and allows wheelchair basketball to remain part of the Paralympic movement.”
Every sport’s classification rules has a set of minimum impairment criteria which describe how severe an Eligible Impairment must be for an athlete to be considered eligible to compete in their chosen sport. These are defined on the basis of scientific research, which assess the impact of impairments on the sport’s activities. As sports require different activities, the minimum impairment criteria are therefore specific to each sport.
Prof Vicky Goosey-Tolfrey, Director of the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport, Loughborough University, said:
“We have been monitoring closely the impact of the IPC Athlete Classification Code and MIC’s on wheelchair basketball’s inclusion at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. Barry Mason, Michael Hutchinson, and the rest of the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport have established an international reputation within para-sports classification over the past 5 years, and we’re delighted to join the IWBF in launching this project.
“We are also grateful for the support from British Wheelchair Basketball, whose extra funding helped get this project across the line. We hope that the international working group with members from the UK, Poland, Canada, and Switzerland can ensure that we navigate the path over the next six months with a remit to gain consensus on the MIC within wheelchair basketball so athletes can represent their countries in Paris and can perform at their very best.“
Lisa Pearce, CEO of British Wheelchair Basketball said:
“This project signifies a unified commitment by the international wheelchair basketball community to develop an eligibility framework which aligns to the IPC’s Classification Code and ensures the sports safe future as part of the Paralympic movement.
“British Wheelchair Basketball is proud to support the facilitation of this ground-breaking research project between Loughborough University and IWBF, and we are incredibly grateful to UK Sport and the National Lottery, without whose funding this would not have been possible.
“I believe this marks a hugely exciting next stage in this great sports journey; this project will see national federations working side-by-side to underpin and support IWBF and Loughborough University’s successful research into a new Minimal Impairment Criteria for wheelchair basketball.”
The new Classification Rules and minimum impairment criteria will be implemented in an appropriate transitional process following the conclusion of the research project and approval from IPC.