Tuesday 4 September – Saturday 8 September 2012
Number of medal events
12 – men’s and women’s Individual Epée and Foil for categories A and B, and men’s Sabre for categories A and B; and a mixed category men’s Foil Team and women’s Epée Team.
Number of competitors
100: 60–76 men and 24–40 women
Each country is limited to six men and four women, including a limit of two athletes in each event.
A and B – athletes in the B category have an impairment with a greater impact on their functional ability.
Read more about Wheelchair Fencing classification
Field of play
Fencing takes place on a piste measuring 4m x1.5m. Athletes compete in wheelchairs that are fixed into a frame fastened to the floor. This gives them freedom of movement in their upper bodies, while keeping them fixed in their chairs. The distance between the two fencers is determined by the athlete with the shorter arm reach, who decides if the distance between competitors will be set at the length of their opponent’s reach or their own.
Three types of weapon are used in Wheelchair Fencing. In bouts using the Foil and the slightly heavier Epée, hits are scored by hitting an opponent with the tip of the weapon. In Sabre, hits are more commonly scored with the edge of the weapon.
The target area for Foil is limited to the opponent’s torso, while competitors in Sabre and Epée events may be hit anywhere above the waist.
Fencers wear protective gear including masks, jackets, breeches and gloves. Fencers also wear a wire to enable hits to be recorded electronically.
For a complete set of rules, please refer to the website of the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS), governing body for the sport.
A referee oversees each Fencing bout. The referee is assisted by a video referee and, in the later stages of the competition, two assistant referees, who look for rule infringements.
Keys to success
Wheelchair Fencing is a fast, tense sport. Fencers must use all their wits and quick thinking to outplay their opponent, judging the right amount of attacking and defensive moves to outwit the opposition.
Breaking the rules
A wrong move can see valuable points taken away or awarded to the opposition. The referee will be looking out for infringements, such as weapons touching the floor once a bout is underway, or at Foil covering the valid target with the unarmed hand. An athlete’s foot must not leave the chair’s foot rest or use the floor for advantage, and the athlete must remain seated at all times.
Epée – the heaviest weapon and a true duelling sword: the whole body is a target, and opposing fencers can simultaneously score hits.
Foil – a light weapon derived from the court sword, the Foil has very strict right-of-way and timing rules. The target area in foil bouts is the opponent’s torso.
Sabre – in Sabre, which is derived from the cavalry sword, fencers usually score hits with the edge of the weapon on a target area limited to anywhere above the waist – this is because it was once considered ungentlemanly to hit an opponent’s horse!
If you want to find out about Wheelchair Fencing in your country, including clubs, facilities and coaching schemes, check the website of your National Governing Body for Wheelchair Fencing. To find out how you can get involved in Wheelchair Fencing in the UK, go to thegamesandbeyond.com
For more information on the Wheelchair Fencing competition at London 2012 and the rules of the sport, go to the website of the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS), governing body for the sport.