Boston Marathon Para Athletics Divisions expand to provide greater accessibility and opportunities across seven impairment divisions; prize awards surpass $1 million.
BOSTON – The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) today announced plans for an enhanced prize money structure across B.A.A. events in 2024, as well as the introduction of two new Para Athletics Divisions for athletes competing with coordination impairments (T35-T38) and intellectual impairments (T20) as well as more inclusive upper and lower limb impairment divisions. The changes will provide greater financial rewards for athletes across multiple divisions and expanded opportunities for athletes within the Para Athletics Divisions and Wheelchair Divisions.
“We are always looking at ways to celebrate and reward athletic excellence,” said Jack Fleming, B.A.A. President and CEO. “With these changes, we are recognizing top finishers and aspiring athletes in our Wheelchair and Para Athletics Divisions, while also expanding opportunities for new groups of athletes to be recognized and included in our B.A.A. events.”
He continued, “Boston is a running city, and we’ve made it our goal to elevate Para athletes as they train and compete for the podium at our events, from the 5K through to the marathon.”
“This creates an enormous positive impact for Para athletes and shows how the B.A.A. is leading the way towards greater inclusivity in sports,” said John Jordan, head of The Academy and executive co-sponsor of the Disability Action Network, Bank of America. “As we look across our involvement in sports around the world, we’re committed to help broaden the possibilities available to athletes competing at all levels.”
New prize structures highlights:
Overview of new Para Athletic divisions:
Marko Cheseto - Kenyan All-American athlete who holds the world record for a double lower leg amputee in the marathon said, “This increased recognition [from the B.A.A.] gives athletes with disabilities more public attention, and we can perform at a higher level given these opportunities.
“Now that we have the world’s oldest marathon leading the way [with prize money for Para divisions] all other marathons should be inclusive. It's about diversifying the sport and creating more avenues for people with disabilities to compete, so we continue to grow the sport for future generations.”
Daniel Romanchuk, US Paralympian and two-time Boston Marathon winner said, “The B.A.A. has championed the wheelchair division for many decades and continues to build on that tradition by including more Para-athlete divisions, allowing an ever-increasing number of athletes to compete.
“Increased prize money makes it possible for emerging athletes to attend elite-level races as well as helping them afford the costly equipment and repairs that are necessary to compete in Para-athletics. The B.A.A. is continually finding ways to elevate the sport, and it's incredibly exciting to imagine the future of Para-athletics!”
Reigning Boston Marathon Champion, and multi-World and Paralympic Champion from Switzerland, Marcel Hug said, “To see how the sport of wheelchair racing has developed in recent years is very gratifying and it is also a credit to the Boston Athletic Association. It is not only about the financial support which enables us to train and compete at a higher level, but it is also about the increased recognition and inclusion of Para-sports.
“As top athletes we try to perform at our best and inspire other people with or without disabilities so the support of the B.A.A. and the entire Abbott World Marathon Major series is more than just rewarding top performing athletes, it shows that we are an equal part of society.”
Tatyana McFadden, 21-time Abbott World Marathon Major winner from America said,
“I’m proud to see how far we have come. I’m thankful for past, and for current athletes who have raised their voices to help create change. Change takes more than just one person, it takes a village, and takes people who believe in us. The B.A.A. has been part of that, so I am very thankful.
“The prize money is so important to support the elite Para divisions. The more support, visibility and education we can bring to the sport, the better it can be for all the athletes.”
Susannah Scaroni, Paralympic Gold medalist and the 2023 Boston Marathon Champion from America said, “The legacy of the Boston Marathon and its support of the wheelchair division has impacted me in so many ways.
“As a person with a disability, the legacy of the original 1970 wheelchair athletes has enabled myself and all other Para-athletes of my generation to perceive ourselves and to be perceived publicly, as professional athletes. I cannot express how much this has meant for all of us.
“The provision of prize money indicated that the B.A.A. truly recognized that wheelchair racers are elite athletes, and this support has enabled the sport to grow and improve and subsequently gives more people with disabilities exposure to role models.”
Liz Willis, Paralympian and three-time Boston Marathon Para Champion said, “The support of the B.A.A. for Para divisions is vital to expanding the Para movement. Just as the Boston Marathon was the first Abbott World Marathon Major to open the doors of possibility for women, they are doing the same for amputees and visually impaired athletes.
“It takes time and recognition to build a program, and the B.A.A. is the ONLY reason I currently run marathons. The Boston Marathon allows others to see their impossible become possible. It has forever impacted my life by breaking down the walls of discrimination and providing pathways for all to push their limits of what's possible.”
Complete Para Athletics Division event information, as well as a breakdown of prize money awards, can be found on the Boston Athletic Association’s website, www.baa.org.
Media interested in interviewing any of the quoted athletes or spokesperson can email email@example.com to arrange.
ABOUT THE BOSTON ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION (B.A.A.)
Established in 1887, the Boston Athletic Association is a non-profit organization with a mission of promoting a healthy lifestyle through sports, especially running. The B.A.A. manages the Boston Marathon, and supports comprehensive charity, youth, and year-round programming. The Boston Marathon is part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, along with international marathons in Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City. Starting in 2024, the Boston Marathon’s presenting partner will be Bank of America. The 128th Boston Marathon is scheduled to take place on Monday, April 15, 2024. For more information on the B.A.A., please visit www.baa.org.