In the wake of the enormous success of Paralympic sport during last summer Wellington Swords Fencing Club is hosting the 2012 British Disabled Fencing Association National Championships at the Princess Royal Sports Centre this weekend.
Wheelchair fencers will be coming from all over the country from Truro to Durham to compete in this major competition at all three weapons: Foil, Epee and Sabre. The competitors include 7 of the GB paralympic team and range in age from two 14-year-olds to over 50. The foil competition will take place on the Saturday morning, the Sabre in the afternoon and the epee on the Sunday.
Local fencer Piers Gilliver who regularly fences at Wellington Swords fencing club will be competing in all three weapons. Although only 17, he is currently ranked 2nd in men’s epee and 6th in foil.
Originally devised at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, U.K., competitive wheelchair fencing was first introduced in 1953 and has been a Paralympic sport since Rome in 1960. Popular in Europe since its inception, the sport is now practised in 25 countries worldwide. It is one of the few individual combat sports that can be successfully practised from a wheelchair.
All three weapons are fought. It differs from able bodied fencing only in the fact that it is static: the fencers use wheelchairs which are clamped to the piste by means of a metal frame. Beyond this, the rules are exactly the same as in the able-bodied sport with a few minor additions to cover the complications of fighting from a chair. As there is no retreating, the hand and body movements are every fast.
Fencers are classified according to their level of physical ability. Class A fencers have full sitting balance i.e. many can still stand or even walk. Those in Class B do not have full sitting balance but do have use of their arms and legs whilst Class C fencers do not have full arm and/or hand activity.
Wellington Swords Fencing Club has facilities for wheelchair fencing both for those with experience and those interested in starting this excitingsport. Coach György Felletãr from Hungary has trained the Hungarian Paralympic team to gold medals and is working with the GB fencers.
Anyone interested in coming along on the 17th and 18th November is welcome to come and take this opportunity to see wheelchair fencing at a high level and anyone interested in taking up fencing can contact the club at firstname.lastname@example.org