Friday, May 13, 2016

Reclassification - Mixed Emotions

Yesterday, Matt had his appointment for his International Paralympic Committee reclassification.  It is valid for two years.  Matt was originally classified in Arizona during the Desert Challenge Games in 2014 as a T12 athlete.  As I mentioned in my post earlier in the week, it would be detrimental to Matt's Paralympic dreams if he were to be reclassified as a T11 athlete since he has not trained with a guide on the track and he has never raced (or even worn) blackout glasses.  He was so concerned, but as it turns out he was reclassified.  Only he wasn't reclassified as a T11 athlete, but rather a T13 athlete.  Until this year, there were different standards for T11, T12, and T13.  This year, the qualifying times for T12 and T13 are the same.  This is good -- otherwise, Matt would have had harder qualifying standards to meet.

So what does it mean that Matt is now a T13 athlete?  We have no idea.  We should be happy that he is a T13 because it should mean his vision has improved, except that isn't true.  Sixteen years of testing by highly renowned neuro-ophthalmologists has never revealed an improvement in his vision.  After the initial period of onset that lasted several months, Matt's vision has been stable and that's okay.  Matt has learned how to navigate life with Leber's.  The "T" designation is the international classification.  The United States uses a "B" classification, but it has three categories, too, B1, B2, and B3.  Matt is a B2 athlete so that should marry up to the T12 classification.  Yet still, the doctors yesterday said that his left eye was improved since his testing in 2014.  The only thing we can think of that is different between his testing in 2014 and yesterday is the guidance they gave him during the testing.  In 2014, he was not allowed to move his blind spot, which is his entire central vision, to help him see during different aspects of the test.  In 2016, he was instructed to move his blind spot.

We do not know if this will impact his chances of making the U.S. Team.  The standards are the same, but how does Matt stack up against other T13 athletes, compared to other T12 athletes?  We won't know until July 3rd when the U.S. Team is announced.  But for now, we have mixed emotions about the new classification.

On a brighter note, Matt is scheduled to race at 7:15 pm (10:15 EST).  There is a high of 102 in Phoenix today, but it should be around 95 at gun.  I know it is a dry heat, but that's still hot!

Stay tuned for updates!

A picture of Matt nearing the finish line at Nationals last year.