Racing in a Wheelchair
Wheelchair racing is not the type of racing you are probably thinking of. It does not involve any vehicles of any sort yet it involves specialized racing wheelchairs. Wheelchair racing is a very competitive adaptive sport and is also very fun to watch. If you have seen the Disabled Sports USA then you know how fun it is to see them in action. It is possible for almost anyone to try wheelchair racing with a super custom wheelchair.
Keep in mind there certain disabilities you need to have to qualify which are, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, and also those with impaired vision. There is also some classifications that you should be aware of. If the athlete has a spinal cord injury or an amputee the classification T51-T58. Classification is T51-T54 is a classification for athletes that are competing specifically in track events. If the athlete is functional from the waist up then the classification is T54. Athletes with restricted movement in their abdominal then the classifications T53. T52-T51 is for athletes with restricted movement in their upper limbs.
A popular place for wheelchair races to take place is the Paralympics and it has been since the 1960’s. To participate and train you do not need to be a part of a team but the Paralympics does happen to hold events that qualify you to enter. There are schools that let you train alongside the school's track team and they can also keep track of your time and help you compare it to other users at different schools. You can also train for your strength and endurance on a public track. When you are choosing a public track make sure you use a track similar to the one you would compete on. School tracks are usually perfect since they are used for runners and have the necessary grip.
Yes, you will need to buy a custom wheelchair it would be a good idea because a regular wheelchair can’t get to the speed of a sports wheelchair. Try a friends wheelchair if possible because the wheelchairs are custom fit to the user so it will fit like a glove. If the wheelchair does not fit you like a glove you can become uncomfortable and your performance can suffer as well. Google different brands that produce these custom wheelchairs and research different options so you can be happy with it. An international brand Invacare makes competitive racing wheelchairs and serves as an example for you to look into. The Abilities Expo will help you in seeing a custom racing wheelchair up close and personal.
In conclusion, give the sport a shot if you feel it is right for you. Join a wheelchair racing community or something that will help you advance into it if it’s something you want to do. Another great factor will be your budget because getting a custom racing wheelchair is not free and will cost you a good amount of money.
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