Competition at the Highest Levels



In Paralympic fencing, athletes compete in wheelchairs fastened to the floor. They duck, half-turn, and lean to avoid their opponent’s touches, but they cannot rise up from the seat. A touch is scored when the fencer hits a specific area on the opponent’s body. Five touches wins the round, and two out of three rounds wins the match.

Fencing is divided into three categories: foil and epee (for women and men), and sabre (men). It is played by athletes with disabilities that include amputations, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, and stroke.

Strength and stamina make or break a fencer’s chances. And speed: the tip of a fencer’s sword is the second fastest object in sport, only slower than a rifle’s bullet. Some rounds last just seconds.

Top Contenders:
• China and Hong Kong almost evenly split the gold medals in the 2008 Games.
• France and Poland also have strong contenders.
• Team USA has never won gold in fencing. Its most recent medal was bronze, won by John Rodgers in Athens, 2004. But American hopes are high, as two of the earliest athletes to qualify this year are US fencers Cat Bouwkamp and Gerard Moreno.

Paralympics 2012 Competition: Sept. 4 – Sept. 8

Athlete Classifications

Fencing is open to wheelchair athletes with a range of impairments including spinal cord injuries, leg amputations, and cerebral palsy. Athletes are divided into two classes:

Class Disability


Athletes with good balance and recovery, and with full trunk control and movement.


Athletes with poor balance and recovery, with full use of one or both upper limbs.

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