Haki Doku: Albania’s First Paralympics

This will be the first time that Albania, the country I now live in, will be participating in the paralympics. Haki Doku is a 43 year old cyclist who will be competing in the Men’s Individual H 2 Road Race and Men’s Individual H 2 Time Trial.

Again with the extra numbers and letters! Here is what the numbers and letters mean in cycling:

The classification rules of the International Federation for Cycling state that athletes with a physical impairment and athletes with a visual impairment are eligible to compete in the sport at the Paralympics.

Classification also groups athletes in classes, defined by the degree to which they are limited in their ability to perform activities within that sport. In Cycling these classes also define which type of cycle you compete on: bicycle, tricyle, handcycle or tandem.

There are four classes for competition:

B – athletes with a visual impairment who compete on a tandem with a sighted pilot on the front
H1–H4 – athletes with an impairment that affects their legs and so compete using a handcycle
T1–T2 – athletes with an impairment that affects their balance and so compete using a tricycle
C1–C5 – athletes with an impairment that affects their legs, arms and/or trunk but compete using a standard bicycle

In the H, T and C classes, the lower the athlete’s class number, the greater the impact of their impairment on their ability to cycle. So for example a C1 cyclist will have an impairment that has more of an impact on their ability to cycle than a C5 cyclist.

The men’s and women’s Road Race and Team events are straight finals. In each event all athletes start together, and the first athlete/team to cross the finish line is the winner.

In the Time Trials, athletes start at 60-second intervals. The one to complete the course in the fastest time is the winner.

Here in Albania, some people have taken notice. Actually, the president took notice of Albania’s entry into the Paralympics and personally honored Haki!

Congrats to Albania! I hope that Haki does well and that he can inspire others back home.

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