Athletes are allocated into two sport classes that depend on their trunk function since all fencers compete from a wheelchair. 20 Jul 2016
Ruyi Ye (L) of China on his way to winning gold against Yijun Chen (R) of China during the men's individual foil category A final of the wheelchair fencing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
By Mike Stuart and the IPC
All wheelchair fencers have an impairment of their legs or feet that prohibits them from competing against standing, able-bodied fencers. They all compete in wheelchairs and are allocated to one of the two sport classes (category A or category B) depending on their trunk function.
This is because the wheelchairs cannot be moved during competition to get closer to the opponents or to avoid the opponent’s attack. Therefore, the athletes rely on moving their upper body while sitting in the chair.
Fencers in category A have good trunk control, allowing them to bend forward and sideways explosively when attacking their opponent or dodging an attack. Also, their fencing arm is fully functional.
Fencers in this sport class have lower limb deficiency or paraplegia, for example. Not all fencers in this category use a wheelchair in their daily life.
Category B fencers have an impairment that impacts their legs as well as their trunk or their fencing arm. Some of the fencers, for example, have incomplete tetraplegia. You will see them support their trunk movements with their non-fencing arm to effectively attack the opponent. You may also see a fencer’s sword fixed with a bandage.