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There seem to be a wide range of categories in the Paralympics, all with different tariffs for difficulty, but how are these actually balanced?

For example, one of the simplest groups is Kayaking, with only 3 categories:

KL1: Athletes in this sports class have no or very limited trunk and no leg function.

KL2: Athletes in this sports class have partial trunk and leg function; they are able to sit upright in the kayak. Along with this, they will have limited leg movement during paddling.

KL3: Athletes in this sports class have trunk and partial leg function and are usually able to use at least one prosthetic

Does each get a points handicap in order that there is one gold? Or is there a gold per category?

In Athletics there are categories from 11 to 58 so this must lead to a lot of medals if there is a set per category.

A letter F is for field athletes, T represents those who compete on the track, and the number shown refers to their impairment.

11-13: Track and field athletes who are visually impaired. Blind athletes compete in class 11, wear compulsory blindfolds and run with a guide runner. Athletes in class 12 are visually impaired but running with a guide is optional.

20: Track and field athletes who are intellectually impaired. Athletes in this class have difficulty with reaction time and memory recognition during an event. There are three events for men and women in the Rio programme - 1,500m, long jump and shot put- these particular events have been medically proven to have an impact on performance for T/F20 competitors.

31-38: Track and field athletes with cerebral palsy or other neurological conditions that affect muscle co-ordination and control. Athletes in classes 31-34 compete in a seated position (using a racing or throwing chair), while athletes in classes 35-38 compete standing.

40: Track and field athletes with short stature (also known medically as dwarfism).

42-47: Track and field amputees. In classes 42-44 the legs are affected and in class 45-47 the arms are affected. Athletes in these classes compete standing and do not use a wheelchair.

T51-54: Wheelchair track athletes. Athletes in class 51-52 are affected in both lower and upper limbs. T53 athletes have fully functioning arms but have no trunk function at all, while T54 athletes have partial trunk and leg functions.

F51-58: Wheelchair field athletes. Athletes in F51-54 classes have limited shoulder, arm and hand functions and no trunk or leg function, while F54 athletes have normal function in their arms and hands. In the F55-58 classes the trunk and leg function increases.

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This is the list of medals that will be awarded during the paralympics games in Rio in 2016 by sports.

From this list it is deduced that for some sports we have more disability categories grouped within the same competition (for example Cycling Road - Men's Road Race C1-2-3) for most instead athletes with different types of disability will have separate classifications.

To confirm this I can link the medal table for Men's 1500 metres from London 2012 Summer Paralympics as commented above by Philip Kendall.

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