Para athletics: World records to be reset following 2018 blade rule change (published by Athletics Weekly on 14th July).
“World records held by athletes including Britain’s Richard Whitehead and Dutch sprinter Marlou van Rhijn will be reset after this year following the news that new rules for double leg amputee classes are to be introduced from 2018.
World Para Athletics has announced it will bring in a new formula to calculate the maximum allowable standing height (MASH) for double leg amputees from January 1, 2018, meaning any world and regional records set by athletes competing in below-knee T43/F43 and above-knee T42/F42 double leg amputee classes before this time will be archived. New record marks will be established at the end of the 2018 season.
The decision to implement the new formula comes after a study – initiated in 2006 by the World Para Athletics Classification Research Project – revealed that the current MASH formula “systemically overestimates athlete height”.
Given the correlation between blade length and stride length, longer blades can provide a longer stride and therefore faster times.
Although some T43/F43 and T42/F42 records may have been set with blades which will be allowed under the new rules, because they were recorded when rules allowed a greater maximum standing height, they will all be reset.
 South Africa’s six-time Paralympic gold medallist Oscar Pistorius had been among those to question the rules regarding blade length in 2012 after he was beaten to the Paralympic 200m title in London by Brazil’s Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira.
“The allegations from Oscar at that moment in time, they were not founded because everybody competing had their blade length legitimate under the rules,” Van de Vliet explained at a recent World Para Athletics classification workshop held ahead of the London 2017 championships.
“Discussions prompted us to look at the overall blade length, whether the formula we applied was an appropriate one. That formula was somewhat outdated.””
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