Para Rowing

Para-Rowing provides opportunities for a wide range of athletes with physical and intellectual impairments to compete in an inclusive environment. In Australia, there are three classifications for para-rowing. These classifications closely match the international para-rowing classifications.

The sport can cater for athletes with a variety of impairments. 

Para-Rowing is integrated into the main rowing program in Australia and internationally. It was introduced as a Paralympic sport at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics and therefore provides athletes with the opportunity to achieve at the highest level. Australia has a good record in Para-Rowing, winning numerous medals since the sport was introduced to the World Rowing Championships in 2002.

Rowing Australia has entered into an agreement with the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) to establish and develop a Paralympic Preparation Program (PPP). Rowing Australia’s PPP is managed through the Para-Rowing High Performance Plan with the establishment of structured programs and selection requirements to optimise Australia’s opportunity to win medals at the Paralympic Games.

This information is intended to be a generic guide to classification for Para-Rowing. The classification of athletes in this sport is performed by authorised classifiers according to the classification rules of the sport, which are determined by the International Federation (FISA).


Which Paralympic impairment groups compete in Para-Rowing?


Examples of health conditions

Vision Impairment

Albinism, Retinitis Pigmentosa, macular or rod cone dystrophy

Physical Impairment

Limb loss or deficiency

Amputation from trauma, cancer, Limb deficiency from birth

Loss of muscle strength

Spinal cord injury, Spina Bifida, Transverse Myelitis,

Sacral Agenesis, Spinal Tumours, Erbs Palsy, Muscular dystrophy

Hypertonia Ataxia Athetosis

Cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury, stroke, brain tumor, Multiple sclerosis, cerebellar ataxia, Hereditary Spastic Paraparesis or other conditions where hypertonia (spasticity, rigidity or dystonia),

ataxia or athetosis are present.

Joint movement restrictions

Arthrogryposis, Talipes Equinovarus, joint fusions


What is the Minimal Impairment Criteria?

Specific criteria is applied to each sport to determine if a person’s impairment results in sufficient limitation in their sport. This is called the minimal impairment criteria. For more information page numbers of the FISA Classification rules are indicated in brackets.


Minimal Disability – GUIDE ONLY

Vision Impairment

Visual acuity less than or equal to 6/60 (log MAR 1.0); or

visual field is less than 20 degrees radius in both eyes with best corrected vision.

Physical Impairment

Limb loss or deficiency

Leg: Loss of half of one foot.

Arm: Full loss of three fingers in one hand.

Loss of muscle strength

Leg: Loss of strength in a hip, knee or ankle that impacts on rowing.

Arm: Loss of strength in a shoulder, elbow, wrist or fingers that impacts on rowing.

Hypertonia Ataxia Athetosis

Hypertonia (Spasticity, Rigidity or Dystonia), Ataxia or Athetosis that affect coordination in at least one joint.

Joint movement restrictions

Leg: Joint movement restriction in one hip, knee or ankle that impacts on rowing.

Arm: Joint movement restriction in one shoulder, elbow, wrist or fingers that impacts on rowing.


How do I get classified? Contact Rowing Australia Gordon Marcks


What are the Paralympic classes for this sport?

The list below is intended as a guide only. Only authorised classifiers are able to provide a formal classification in a particular sport.


Examples (Guide Only)


(Legs Trunk Arms)

Rowers who have the use of their legs, trunk and arms, who can utilize the sliding seat. Rowers may have a physical or visual impairment. Rowers with a vision impairment wear a blindfold during competition.


  • Limb loss or deficiency, at least full loss of three fingers on one hand, or at least a tarsal metatarsal amputation of the foot,
  • Loss of muscle strength eg equivalent to incomplete spinal cord injury at S1
  • Minimal ataxia, athetosis, hypertonia. Eg Cerebral Palsy, brain injury, stroke or MS


(Trunk Arms)

Rowers who have trunk and arm movement, who are unable to use their legs to propel the sliding seat.


  • Limb loss or deficiency equivalent to a double above leg amputation
  • Significant muscle strength loss in both legs equivalent to complete spinal cord injury at L3 level or incomplete lesion at L1
  • Ataxia, athetosis or hypertonia from CP, brain injury or stroke which affects both legs or one side of the body


(Arms Shoulders Only)

Athletes row with their arms and shoulders only. Athletes use strapping around their mid section to provide support and stability in the boat.


  • Ataxia, athetosis or hypertonia from CP, brain injury or stroke who may use a wheelchair or walking aid
  • Loss of muscle strength equivalent to complete spinal cord injury at T12 level.


Further Information


Rowing Australia P: +61 407 787 270

Australian Paralympic Committee

E: P: +61 2 9704 0500




A list of current classifications for adaptive rowing that can be checked to see whether an athlete is classified is available on the RA website. Paralympic Committee Classification Information Sheet for Rowing


Racing and Regattas

Para-rowing events are included at most age/open regattas and most school regattas in Tasmania. They are also held at Championship regattas. Para-rowing races are held in single and double sculls. Para-rowers can enter para-rowing double sculls with another para-rower of either gender.

 At National Championships para-rowing double scull races must be raced by two para-rowers of the opposite gender.

When entering para-rowing single scull races, the rower should nominate their classification and the distance they prefer to race (either 500 m or 1000 m). Where there are sufficient entries, LTA entrants will race in a separate division to the TA and A rowers.

Para-Rowing provides athletes with a physical or intellectual impairment the opportunity to be active on the water, get involved in a fun and friendly club environment, and participate in a variety of competitions from club regattas through state and national championships to world championships and Paralympic games.


A list of equipment that can be sought in Australia suitable for para-rowing is available on the RA website.


State Contact details are included below. 


Position Contact Phone Email
General Manager Development & Operations Sarah Black 0437 638 682