By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year
July 16 - Triathlon could make its debut in the Paralympics at the Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
The International Triathlon Union (ITU) have opened negotiations with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for the sport to be added to the programme for six categories across the various disabilities.
Loreen Barnett, the secretary general of the ITU, told insideworldparasport: "We are working with both the International Paralympic Committee and national blind sport federations to come up with a short-and long-term strategy to adhere to the IPC's classification strategy.
"That ensures that 'winning is determined by skill, fitness, power, endurance, tactical ability and mental focus'.
"The participants in Paratriathlon are, to a large extent, athletes with physical disabilities, as defined by classifications TRI 1 through TRI 5 of the Paratriathlon classifications.
"A sixth category (TRI 6) is dedicated to visually impaired triathletes.
"We have just submitted our application for the inclusion of Paratriathlon in the Paralympic Games programme, aspiring for our athletes to be in Rio 2016.
"At the time of this important application for the Paratriathletes of the world, we have been advised to offer one visually impaired category at the elite level."
There has been criticism that, as part of the drive to get triathlon into the Paralympics, that a new ITU rule requires all visually impaired elite triathletes to wear blackout glasses during the race’s running portion.
Barnett said: "The Paralympic guiding principles includes 'fair play' and so this one VI category must offer a level playing field at the elite level in the short term, which is why we instituted the black-out glasses.
"This has been warmly welcomed by VI paratriathletes at the Madrid elite Paratriathlon and at the European Championships in Athlone.
"National Federations may offer three official blind categories in their national championship events, which will continue to ensure that triathlon is accessible to all Paratriathletes with visual impairments.
"It is important to note that the bid for Paralympic inclusion is at the elite level of the sport and therefore there are limitations to the number of categories that may be included.
"We aspire to having more categories available in the future."
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