USA Triathlon has revised its official rulebook to include a groundbreaking new Physically Challenged (PC) Open Division, meant to provide accommodations for those athletes who wish to participate in sanctioned events and do not meet classification or equipment criteria.
The PC Open Division rules allow for more competition opportunities within the sport of paratriathlon. (Carlos Cunha/USA Triathlon)
Following approval from the USA Triathlon Board of Directors, the official language of the PC Open Division rules will apply to participants at 2014 USA Triathlon-sanctioned events. The rules modifications will allow competition opportunities to athletes with Americans with Disabilities Act-defined disabilities who may not fit into a paratriathlon medical classification, or who are unable to follow the strict equipment usage rules of paratriathlon. Participation in the PC Open Division is available to athletes with a medically verified physical, visual or neurological impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The official rulebook is available at usatriathlon.org/rulebook.
"By defining the PC Open Division and its guidelines in our rulebook, we are able to be more inclusive for all paratriathletes who may want to become involved in the sport," said Charlie Crawford, USA Triathlon's Commissioner of Officials. "Paratriathlon is strictly defined by the rules of each classification category, but USA Triathlon wants to be welcoming of any athlete with a disability and as we've looked for ways to offer those opportunities, this has been the best option for us to include as many athletes as possible."
USA Triathlon's PC Open Division has been offered at a number of events since 2010, but the revisions to the rulebook will complement the official rules set forth by the International Triathlon Union (ITU) for paratriathlon competition. A new worldwide paratriathlon classification system will be implemented by ITU in 2014, and the PC Open Division rules in the United States will allow paratriathletes to continue competing even though they may not fit into the new system.
The newly defined rules will also provide a gateway to the sport for new paratriathletes, which may increase the talent pool for the U.S. team heading into the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, where paratriathlon will make its debut. For more on paratriathlon in the United States, visit usatriathlon.org/paratriathlon.
About USA Triathlon: Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon - the fastest growing sport in the U.S. Olympic Movement - as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with more than 550,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).