The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has named 14-time Paralympic Champion Erin Popovich as the athlete representative to the IPC Classification Committee until November of 2017.
Popovich, one of the most decorated Paralympians in history, having won 14 gold medals across the 2000, 2004, and 2008 Paralympic Games. She also won an ESPY Award, ESPN’s annual awards show, for best Female Athlete with a Disability in 2005 – the first time that award was given; was named the Women’s Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the year; and in 2009 won a 2nd ESPY. She announced her retirement from competitive swimming in 2010 at just 25-years old.
Only 11 athletes in history have won more Paralympic gold medals than Popovich in a single sport (it’s not uncommon for Paralympians to compete in multiple sports), including just 5 other swimmers and 1 other American (Trischa Zorn).
After her retirement, she joined the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) as the classification and emerging sports program administrator.
According to the IPC, “The Committee is comprised of six members, including the Chairperson and five members at large. Its function is to create strategic recommendations (global, long-term) related to the on-going evaluation and further development of classification systems of all sports in the Paralympic Movement.”
The committee, while it has no formal decision-making authority, as a group makes recommendations to the IPC regarding the classification systems across all sports.
Classification is always a popular topic within the Paralympic movement, but have become especially a hot-button issue since the 2012 Paralympics, where a run of classifications and suspicious results have led to a general distrust of the classification process. Late last year, the IPC changed their classification rules and procedures, and earlier this year announced that they were going to again review para-swimming classifications.