A South Africa-based sports club is eyeing future international success in wheelchair fencing after introducing the sport to its 40 athletes in the town of Oudtshoorn.
Klein Karoo Sports Club for the Disabled, which already offered athletics, table tennis and wheelchair basketball, provided its members with the opportunity to undertake wheelchair fencing earlier this month to fulfil its desire to develop a sport suitable for people with a variety of impairments.
Athletes tried the sport out following a demonstration from local able-bodied fencer Susan Agrella and the club now has eight aspiring wheelchair fencers on its books.
They will first have the opportunity to compete at an event in Cape Town next February with the ultimate aim being to represent their country at the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation [IWAS] World Championships and the Paralympic Games.
"Our team has the ability to reach the top and be the best there is," said Agrella.
The club is also looking for opportunities to train coaches and officials to strengthen the infrastructure of the sport within South Africa.
Its objective, with the support of IWAS and the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing Executive Committee, is to expand the reach of the sport across other areas of South Africa and to countries across the continent.
Libya was previously the only African country with active wheelchair fencers, which makes Klein Karoo’s initiative the first of its kind in Southern Africa.
IWAS say they are looking forward to seeing the promising potential nurtured as the development and promotion of wheelchair fencing continues across the continent.