The Road to Rio 2016: Wheelchair Fencing

It’s the year of the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! While we wish the Summer Olympics were being held in the USA, that way we could hop in our wheelchair accessible vehicle and go see some of the events, we are nonetheless excited for the games to begin.

The Paralympic Games are set to begin less than four months from today (on September 7th). It’s still a ways out, but the athletes are certainly preparing for their individual events.

As the spring and summer months go by, and we get closer to the torch being lit, we at Rollx Vans will be taking a closer look at some of the events that you can expect to see at this year’s games.

Today we are covering wheelchair fencing.

A Bit of History

Wheelchair fencing made its debut in the first ever Paralympic Games in Rome, Italy in 1960. The event was introduced by Sir Ludwig Guttmann (a knightly name, to be sure) in 1953.

There are three impairment groups that are allowed to compete in paralympic fencing, according to Team USA’s website, which include people with:

  1. Amputated limbs
  2. Spinal Cord Injuries/Paralysis
  3. Traumatic Brain Injuries/Cerebral Palsy/Stroke

How the Sport is Played

Wheelchair fencing is very similar to traditional fencing, with the exception of the lateral movement of the athletes. In wheelchair fencing, athletes’ wheelchairs are secured to the floor, prohibiting movement in any direction. This allows athlete to focus on parrying opponents strikes and sequencing attacks of their own.

Because movement is not a factor, wheelchair fencing is significantly faster (about three times faster), meaning athletes have to think and react quickly, often planning several moves ahead in order to successfully strike and score a point on their opponents.

In the Paralympic Games, athletes are divided into three classes based on their strength and overall mobility.

Fun Fact: Why do Fencers Wear White?

Fencing dates back centuries and was often used as both a method of training and as a sport for enthusiasts. Many aspects of the sport have carried over to modern-day fencing, the white outfits being one of them.

Centuries ago, fencing matches were fought to the first blood (meaning the fight would stop when one of the competitors was wounded). The white outfits made it easy to tell when blood was drawn!

What do you think of wheelchair fencing? Do you want to learn the sport, or will you be watching it during the 2016 Paralympics? Join the conversation by commenting below!

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