Jamaica complete DIY wheelchair fencing frames
Jamaican wheelchair fencers took one step closer to international competition at the start of the year with the completion of a do-it-yourself fencing frame to help their athletes train.
The frame, which is used to fix fencing wheelchairs in the correct position during a match, was made from plans developed by the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS).
Jamaica are the latest country to make their own equipment, joining nations such as Costa Rica.
Kurt Schmick, who has been helping to develop wheelchair fencing with the help of the Jamaica Fencing Federation, described how the frame could be made quite easily using recycled materials:
“We identified a local welder who was willing to support. We sourced materials locally that we felt would work for our application. Over a period of a week we completed a prototype frame which we current utilise today.”
Schmick was invited to help introduce the sport in Jamaica in 2017 by the Jamaican Paralympic Committee, nearly 20 years after he had first seen wheelchair fencing for himself.
In 2018 he attended a coaching seminar in Costa Rica where he first came across a DIY fencing frame. After a difficult year in which Schmick tried in vain to get Jamaican fencers to their first international competitions, they went back to the drawing board.
“We refocused our efforts and continued development, when we were introduced to the frame plans shared by IWAS,” Schmick said.
With the right equipment to improve their fencing, he is optimistic of a bright future:
“We continue to train and look for opportunities for development and competition for our wheelchair athletes.”
Used at all major events, fencing frames are vital to ensure that fencing chairs are fixed firmly in place on the piste and cannot move during a match. They are also adjustable to determine the correct distance between fencers depending on their reach.
IWAS Wheelchair Fencing has a variety of different resources available to help countries start the sport and then progress. As well as the frame plans and guidance, these include a series of coaching videos.