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Illinois to allow disabled athletes to compete in high school sports

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The Illinois High School Association approved allowing athletes with disabilities to compete in girls swimming and diving as well as boys and girls cross country.

The association’s Board of Directors made the approvals at their regular meeting in Bloomington, Illinois Monday, September 10, 2012.  Illinois will offer inaugural high school athletic competitions that include disabled athletes this fall.

The deadline for disabled athletes to be entered in available events this year was extended to October 10. 

Specific terms and conditions for events and eligibility for disabled athletes were included in the approval process.   The athletes must meet IHSA eligibility rules and are classified based on standards developed by Wheelchair and Ambulatory Sports USA.

For girls swimming and diving, a school can enter a maximum of two participants with physical or visual disabilities in any event.  The state will sanction the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard breast stroke, 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle events for athletes with disabilities.   During post-season competition (sectionals and state finals), disabled athletes will race at the same time. 

Read the swimming and diving terms and conditions – click here.

For boys and girls cross country, manual wheelchairs will be allowed for wheelchair-bound athletes.  Member schools can enter a maximum of seven participants in each gender for the wheelchair division.  In sectional and state final competition, disabled athletes will race separately from non-disabled competitors but over the same course as non-wheelchair division athletes.  The courses can be adjusted if the layout warrants an adjustment, as long as the course is at least 2.5 miles in length.

Read the cross country terms and conditions – click here.

“This is incredibly important step in providing these important programs,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “We hope that the release of these Terms and Conditions provides clarity for our member schools and their athletes on how this process will work moving forward.”