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What does the term ‘Paradragons’ refer to?

Paradragons are dragon boat paddlers who are living with some form of physical, psychological, neurological, sensory, developmental, or intellectual impairment.  

The term is also used more generally to refer to a race category where some or all paddlers have such impairments.



‘Impairment’ or ‘disability’?

Although ‘impairment’ and ‘disability’ are often used interchangeably, IDBF sees a clear distinction between them and encourages everyone in the dragon boat community to treat the two words appropriately.  For us:


  • an ‘impairment’ is the condition that a person is living with; while

  • a ‘disability’ is a restriction on that person’s ability to carry out functions because of the impairment.

‘Disability’ is therefore related to context. For example, a visually impaired person has a sensory impairment that may make it difficult or impossible for them to drive a car safely; they are considerably ‘disabled’ as far as driving is concerned, but the impairment may have little effect on their ability to paddle powerfully.

IDBF has prepared a ‘lexicon’ to explain terms related to Paradragons and also to describe some of the more common impairments that some people live with.  Download the Paradragon Lexicon.


How can a Paradragon participate?

Paradragons can be part of a club that mainly has unimpaired paddlers or be part of a club specifically formed as a Paradragon club.  Pretty much any club anywhere in the world will welcome a Paradragon paddler and although there are many fewer Paradragon clubs, their numbers are increasing. If you are interested in finding out more, one starting point could be the national federation of the country you are in.  A list of points of contact in national federations that actively support Paradragon involvement.


Or contact IDBF’s Para Athletes Commission.


Are there special rules for Paradragon racing?

Yes,  you can read the Rules for Paradragon racing, which supplement the other IDBF rules for racing.  

Developing these rules wasn’t easy. Read more about the background to the rules for paradragon racing.

What about ‘adaptive’ equipment?

To paddle safely and effectively some Paradragons need to use equipment that has been modified or adapted to suit their individual impairment(s).  Coaches and athletes are reminded that, whilst adaptations are permitted under the race rules, they must conform to the race rules and be deemed safe by race officials.


What about coaching Paradragons?

IDBF has produced a handy guide for anyone involved in coaching who may have a Paradragons in their club or team. The guide is about how to work with individuals more than it is about how to coach a Paradragon team, but the principles can be extended.  


What is the IDBF Para Athletes Commission, and who does it comprise?

Read about the composition and terms of reference for the IDBF Para Athletes Commission.


Contact the Para Athletes Commission.


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