The Paralympic IPC Says I’m Not Disabled

Please forgive the rage that is about to ensue. This post is purely a “get it out of your head quickly” post.

This year I discovered wheelchair racing as a means to defy my enormous decline in physical health. I’ve blogged about this before & how it is the first sport that has not caused me excruciating pain. About how I finally felt able to participate in something physical. About how the inclusive nature of my team mates boosted my mental health immensely. I have my 1st post-holiday training session tomorrow evening & right now, for the first time ever I don’t want to go. Why?

Fast forward to tonight where I happened to stumble upon a twitter conversation about disabled sport classification by the IPC (in oder to take part in “real” races, you must be classified). They have released a statement specifically excluding Ehlers Danlos Syndrome as a qualifying disability for disabled sport. What this means for me is being treated as an able bodied athlete (you can stop laughing now…. seriously, stop it.) and as such can only participate in open races with no chance of joining my friends on the track for races against people similarly matched to my own actual ability.
Ok, I was never destined for anything other than local competitions & having fun, but I have rarely wished my genetics on anyone, however I’ll make an exception here. Especially after this news story. I am more than a little bit gutted. Any visions of progression in my one physical outlet (no matter how far fetched they may be) have been dashed because someone decided that one type of disability was “better” than another. 

How dare they exclude genuinely disabled athletes because they don’t fit into a neat little tick box?! You are a professional body and as such have an obligation (if not legally, then morally) to pick up a goddamn book and read about conditions that cause a spectrum of disability. If you ever wondered why  Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is considered an Invisible Illness, here is you prime example at the very highest level.

What does your not disabled look like?

It looks like a full time wheelchair user

It looks like someone who fights with their racing chair & dislocates joints and keeps going.

It looks like chronic pain that eats away at you & makes you question at 2am exactly why you keep going.

It looks like more medication than I can count on two hands.

It looks like my husband having to cook for me, and help me wash & dress myself. 

It looks like strapping myself with physio tape to keep joints in place. And when that doesn’t work, biting my cheek to stop myself crying from pain in front of the kids I train with.

It looks like being lifted from my racing chair into my day chair due to no sensation in my lower legs because my spine is slowly curving & compressing my nerves.

Now tell me how perfectly able I am.

F*** you IPC and the bureaucratic horse you rode in on.

13 thoughts on “The Paralympic IPC Says I’m Not Disabled

  1. I’m sorry you feel like this. Classification is one of the most (if not the most!) contentious issues in Paralympic sport. One of the continued challenges for the Paralympics is to ensure that the approach taken remains inclusive (research shows that opportunities for those with more severe impairments have declined.) I hope you are able to rekindle your enthusiasm and I do understand where you are coming from. If nothing else, I hope the blog had the desired cathartic effect.


  2. I am heartily sick of hearing about groups who make wholesale, broad, sweeping decisions that wind up excluding people from something they love, and whose participation hurts no one. It’s all about control and power and I just wish that there was more empathy and kindness in the world. As there isn’t, I hope writing about it helped you feel better, and I hope you keep working with your team and doing what you can when you can. They depend on you as you do on them.


      • You go, girl! I can’t understand why they would exclude you, I have never met you or seen you but it is clear to me that you are disabled. They should work to be more inclusive, and I bet you have the tools to make that happen. 🙂


  3. Pingback: Blogger Recognition Award | broken down body

  4. I know i am a bit late to your article, but you have all my support in any way to get the IPC to change this.

    I am Simon by the way, from the article that you linked to.


  5. Is the reclassification of Ehlers Danlos something you are still working on?
    My daughter is suspected of having EDS. Up until 11 years old she was an active football player and loved it. Then the dislocations started to happen, especially with the knees, and the dreams of playing football for England went with them.
    She has just discovered wheelchair basketball and she loves it. It would be devastating if she wasn’t allowed to play in proper matches when she gets better at it.
    Really feel this needs fighting for.


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