Disability sports

7th March 2003 at 00:00
Britain is a world centre of disabled sport and has around a dozen manufacturers of specialist wheelchairs producing lightweight models for racing and chairs with more solid frames for the throwing events.

The main disabled sports and games open to pupils are: * athletics - students compete in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1,500m and 10,000m track events and the marathon. Wheelchair athletes also compete in field events, discus, shot-put and javelin. Quadriplegics, who are unable to grasp a Javelin, throw a club shaped like a small bowling pin.

* wheelchair basketball - a popular sport for able-bodied and non-able-bodied pupils. It follows the normal rules, with players expected to bounce the ball while moving forward.

* disabled snooker - there are no rule modifications, although players adopt tactics designed to avoid the use of rests.

* bocca ball - an Italian version of petanque, using soft-skinned, weighted bowls. Competitors can lob them or roll them down guttering to the jack.

* new age kurling - curling on a polished floor, rather than ice, using rubber curling stones, pushers and a vinyl target.

* wheelchair hockey - Wilson Stuart School has invented a variant called "zone hockey", which allows electric wheelchairs to take part, but restricts them to the outer parts of the pitch.

* swimming - pupils take part in freestyle, backstroke, breastroke and butterfly. The standard distances range from 25m to 400m. Competitors can start from blocks or in the water, next to the wall.

* tennis - only minor modifications are needed. Wheelchair players are allowed two bounces of the ball instead of one.

* fencing - there are competitions in foil, epee and sabre. The wheelchairs are fixed in one position by clamps.

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