Paralympic Sports A-Z: Triathlon

Find out all you need to know about the Paralympic sport of triathlon, including the history, rules, classification and equipment.

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Triathlon will make its Paralympic debut at Rio 2016. It is one of the few sports where able-bodied athletes can compete side-by-side with Para athletes at the national and international levels.

Athletes must race over three segments (750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run) and the first to cross the finish line wins.

At Rio 2016, the start line will begin at Fort Copacabana, located on one end of Copacabana Beach and will finish along the Av. Atlantica-Copacabana road.

The International Triathlon Union (ITU) is the global governing body of the sport.


There are five sport classes in Para triathlon for men and women (10 total during the regular season). However there will only be six medal events contested at Rio 2016:

Men’s PT1, PT2, PT4

Women’s PT2, PT4, PT5

(A dedicated article on Para triathlon classification will be published later in this Sport Week series.)


All competitors start together with the swimming portion, which is contested in open water. Athletes with visual impairments compete with a guide throughout the race.

Once the athletes complete the swim, they transition into the bike portion. Para athletes must collect their equipment in the pre-transition area, then make their way to the transition area to remove their wet suits, swimming caps and goggles and put on their helmets for the 20km bike ride.

Athletes use conventional race bikes with adaptations for PT2-PT4 classes, a tandem for PT5 or handcycle for PT1.

The final leg of the race is a 5km run. PT1 athletes race in a wheelchair, PT2-PT4 athletes run with orwithout supportive equipment and PT5 athletes run with a guide.