The Basic Philosophy in Disability Sports

Ability, not a disability

The aspirations of an athlete with a disability are those of any participant in sport. The athlete aims to achieve an optimum level of physical and psychological fitness in the chosen sport and to demonstrates that ability in competition. Self-discipline, positive self-esteem and body image, and building friendship makes an integral part of the sport. The athlete will generally choose a sport based on his or her abilities. This may be in open able-bodied competition or in competition modified for people with similar disabilities. The emphasis here is on the ability for the sport, and not the disability.

Mind, body, spirit

These are encapsulated in the Paralympic logo as three teardrops symbolising mind, body and spirit participating on land, wheel and water.

Athletes, not patients

The expectation of the sports physician to understand the athletes’ disability and them participating in sports can be at times disappointing. Doctors practising sports medicine often use sport just as part of a rehabilitation program on the disability set in a hospital. Instead of using a doctor-to-patient approach, doctors with sports medicinal expertise should be more encouraging and adopt as an athlete adviser approach. Particularly in the area of classification (grading), exercise physiology and exercise prescription.


Sport has been used as a medium to push for social change in equal opportunities at work and recreation. And integration within the sporting groups has occurred with the introduction of sports-specific functional classification versus the impairment based grading and classification.


Referring to these athletes as ‘the handicapped’ is no longer acceptable. The focus should be more on the athlete as a person and not the disability. Referring them more as ‘a person with a disability. e.g. an athlete with an intellectual disability.

Para Athletics (Singapore) a.k.a PAS offers adaptive programs from all-inclusive to extremely competitive activities. For more information on recreational activities for the physical impairment or Para-Athletics program, please do not hesitate to contact us.