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  • Darren Young

The Classification Conundrum: Seeking Answers for My World Cup Exclusion

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

GBR Sitting Volleyball Spike
GBR No. 10 Darren Young - Beating a double block

As a sitting volleyball athlete, I've dedicated years of my life to the sport, overcoming physical challenges and pushing my limits to excel on the court. In 2023, I was classified as a VS2 for the Silver European Championships, a testament to my hard work and resilience. However, despite my spinal injury worsening, degenerative disc disease and mild root nerve damage, I was not invited to the classification process for the 2023 World Cup Sitting Volleyball in Egypt this year.

Naturally, I was disheartened by this decision, and I've been grappling with the reasons behind it. While I respect the classification panel's expertise, I'm left wondering why my deteriorating condition wasn't considered a factor in their assessment.

One possibility is that the panel focused primarily on my current functional abilities, rather than the potential impact of my worsening injury. While I still maintain a VS2 classification, it's important to recognize that degenerative disc disease and nerve damage are progressive conditions. Over time, these issues could lead to a decline in my physical capabilities, potentially affecting my performance on the court.

Another possibility is that the panel may have had a limited number of slots available for VS2 athletes, leading to difficult decisions about who to invite. If this was the case, I can understand the challenges the panel faced, but I still believe that my deteriorating condition should have been taken into account.

I'm not seeking excuses or special treatment. I simply want to understand the rationale behind the panel's decision. As an athlete, I'm always striving to improve and compete at the highest level, but I also need to be realistic about my physical limitations.

I'm determined to continue training and playing volleyball to the best of my ability. I'm also committed to advocating for myself and other athletes with progressive conditions, ensuring that our voices are heard in the classification process.

GBR Sitting Volleyball Blocking
GBR No. 10 Darren Young

I hope that by sharing my story, I can shed light on the complexities of classification and encourage open dialogue between athletes and classification panels. Together, we can work towards a more transparent and equitable system that ensures all athletes have a fair chance to compete at their highest level.

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