Wheelchair fencing is a mixed discipline, with athletes competing in a wheelchair in a special frame firmly fastened to the floor. The fencers cannot move forwards or backwards and are always at close quarters with their opponent, ensuring high intensity bouts. Like its Olympic equivalent, wheelchair fencing is competed with foil, épée and sabre.
Wheelchair fencing was developed at Stoke Mandeville Hospital after World War II, first to aid the recovery of spinal cord injury patients by strengthening their muscles and improving their balance. Wheelchair fencing soon became very popular and the discipline was included in the first ever Paralympic Games in 1960.
Brief overview of the rules
The rules of wheelchair fencing are generally the same as those for its Olympic equivalent; it differs, however, in that fencers only use the upper half of their bodies to battle. The distance between the two fencers is determined by the one with the shorter arm reach. The fencers are positioned according to whether they are right or left handed. During a bout, the fencer holds their weapon with one hand, using the other to hold on to their wheelchair during attack and recovery. The fencer must remain seated and keep their feet on the footrest.
In foil bouts, the target area is limited to the opponent’s trunk. In sabre bouts, the target area is any part of the body above a horizontal line drawn between the top of the folds formed by the thighs and trunk of the fencer. In épée bouts, the whole body above the hips is a target area. Fencers wear a metal apron to ensure that hits to off-target areas are not counted.
Orthopaedic impairments, paraplegia, quadriplegia, hemiplegia, cerebral palsy, degenerative neurological disorders and neurological disabilities.
International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) : iwasf.com
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