Dozens of athletes will be travelling to Milton, Ontario next week for the UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships. For some of them, however, their first stop won’t be the velodrome but the University of Waterloo’s Optometry Clinic.
In partnership with the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale), Cycling Canada, Canadian Paralympic Committee and the Canadian Blind Sports Association, the clinic is hosting a classification event where athletes with vision impairments will be assessed to determine their eligibility to compete.
"The University of Waterloo has an extremely well equipped optometry department and its proximity to the venue makes it the optimal location to hold vision classification testing for this event," said Mathieu Boucher, Head of Development & Operations at Cycling Canada.
To compete in Paralympic sport, all athletes must first undergo classification to determine if they meet the minimum disability criteria for entry. Then, the degree of their disability is assessed and they are assigned to a class of impairment level. That class determines whom they compete against in their event.
“This event will bring athletes from around the world into our clinic to have their vision checked and their eligibility for competition confirmed before the championships begin,” says Dr. Kristine Dalton, an associate professor at the University’s School of Optometry & Vision Science, who is helping to coordinate the classification event.
Dalton, who specializes in sports vision and has been involved in several classification events at the national level, notes that “this event is especially exciting as 2020 is a Paralympic year, so the competition, and likely our classification, will be well attended.”
The classification event runs January 27th and 28th; sixteen athletes are currently registered.