Special Olympics sports competitions are based on the idea that athletes of all abilities should be given an equal chance of succeeding, whether it is a personal best or a gold medal.
Special Olympics calls this competition-level matching “divisioning.” It’s a fundamental rule at Special Olympics that athletes in competitions are matched up with others of the same gender, about the same age and most importantly, of about the same competitive ability.
Evening out by skill level and matching for age and gender makes Special Olympics events more exciting and meaningful for the athletes and the fans watching.
Divisioning is a two-stage process. Before each competition, a time, score or skill assessment is submitted for each athlete or team. The divisions are then set up based on the information on each athlete’s skill level so that each set of competitors is closely matched.
Why this is important
Divisioning allows athletes in all divisions to train and compete at a high performance level if they desire. Being eligible to compete in a high performance level provides motivation and allows athletes to succeed.
Divisioning is inclusive and celebrates athlete achievement.