Wheelchair Fencing competitions take place in the form of pool stages followed by direct elimination rounds.
During a contest the fencers’ wheelchairs are fastened into medal frames on the floor, allowing freedom of the upper body only.
Although fencers cannot move back and forth, the fact there are no restrictions to upper body movement means duals are as exciting and fast as in non-disabled Fencing events.
Fencers record hits by striking their opponent cleanly in the valid area, with successful hits recorded by the electronic equipment.
There are three disciplines in Wheelchair Fencing, and they are based on the type of sword used – the Foil, the Epee and the Sabre.
In the Foil event, fencers are only permitted to strike the trunk area of the opponent, whereas in the Sabre and Epee, anywhere above the waist is a valid target area.
Bouts last a maximum of four minutes in the preliminary stages, with victory going to the first fencer to score five valid hits or the one with the most hits at the end of the four minutes. Bouts in the first round of competition are the best of nine hits. The top competitors are promoted to a direct elimination, where bouts are awarded to the first get to 15 hits.
In the knockout stages, bouts consist of three rounds of three minutes. The winner is the first to score 15 hits, or the highest scorer at the completion of the contest. In the event of a tie, an extra one-minute sudden death bout is held, with the first person to score a valid hit taking the contest.
Classification divisions are based on impairment.
Category A is for those fencers who have been classified as either Class 3 or Class 4 fencer. These athletes have a good sitting balance, either with or without the support of their lower limbs. Athletes with a low level spinal lesion, athletes with double above the knee amputation and comparable impairments can compete in this class.
Category B is for those fencers who have been classified as a Class 2 fencer. These athletes have a fair sitting balance and an unaffected fencing arm. They most often have paraplegia or incomplete tetraplegia with fencing arms that are minimally affected.
There is a third classification, Class C, for those fencers who have been classified as a Class 1A or 1B fencer. This classification features at international competition but is not included at the Paralympic Games.
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