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Louisa one of few to certify para athletes

News - Date: 01 December 2017

Written by: Andries van Zyl / Viewed: 784


Louisa Kirsten, a local physiotherapist based at the Louis Trichardt Memorial Hospital, successfully completed her International Paralympic Committee (IPC) recertification course as a world para athletics international physical impairment classifier (medical).

She completed the course from 3 to 6 November in Nottwil, Switzerland, after first getting the qualification in 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“There are currently 49 certified world para athletics classifiers who have to undergo recertification every four years. South Africa has ten athletics classifiers, of which three are certified to classify at international level. Each of the 28 paralympic sport codes has its own classification system and training pathways,” said Louisa.

In paralympic sport, there is usually the threat of one-sided and predictable competition in which the least impaired athlete wins. “To prevent this, the IPC uses a classification system to place para athletes in categories for competition, based on how their impairments impact on their sport activity. These are called sport classes,” said Louisa.

The IPC classification system determines which athletes are eligible to compete in a sport, and how athletes are grouped together for fair competition. “To a certain extent, this is similar to grouping athletes to their age, gender or weight,” said Louisa.

Louisa started classifying athletes in 1997 in the Free State, while working as a physiotherapist at a school for disabled. She classifies athletes annually at provincial and national championships in South Africa. Since her international qualification in 2012, she also volunteered as classifier at international championships in Puerto Rico, Arizona, China, Morocco, Tunisia and Ethiopia.

Currently Louisa is the coordinator of classification for the South African Sport for Physically Disabled in Limpopo. “Classification is a voluntary service. There is always a need for people to become involved, not only as classifiers, but also as officials in the various para sport codes offered in South Africa,” said Louisa.

People who are interested to become involved, or want to know more, can contact Louisa at or visit the paralympic website at


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Louis Trichardt resident Louisa Kirsten who was recently recertified as a para athletics international physical impairment classifier.



Andries van Zyl

Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.


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