A record turnout of 150 fencers have competed at India’s National Wheelchair Fencing Championships, with top men’s and women’s athletes from 13 states in action across the three days.
The competition, which was staged in Karnal, was organised by the Haryana State Wheelchair Fencing Association (HSWFA), who are affiliated to the Wheelchair Fencing Federation of India.
Satyavir Singh, secretary general of HSWFA, stated that they were hoping to increase awareness of the sport within the region.
"As Haryana is one state to motivate sports since the last few years, we decided to host the eighth edition to increase awareness of wheelchair fencing in Haryana,” he said.
“Thanks to all our sponsors and Tapan Rehabilitation Society for helping us conduct this event so successfully.
“After this event we have received lots of inquiry by different people to join this sport.”
Master Praveen proved to one of the stars of the competition, with the 14-year-old having surprised the men’s sabre field to reach the gold medal match.
Ventatesha Babu and Ramesh Rao, who are India’s topped ranked foil and epee fencers, were also among those in action at the Championships.
Sabre fencer Vibhas Sen was another competitor, having won three medals at the 2014 edition of the event.
He followed up the achievement by winning two golds this year, one in individual sabre competition, before replicating the feat in the team event.
Sen has stated he is now targeting competing at the Asian Championships in Hong Kong.
In December, Sen had called for further development of wheelchair fencing across India, with the cost of competing seen as a reason why other Paralympic sports were more popular in the nation.
Shankar Iyer, secretary of Wheelchair Fencing Federation of India, believes progress is being made with more athletes competing both nationally and internationally.
"Wheelchair Fencing is growing each year, new states like West Bengal joined us this year,” he said.
“Many fencers now have their own International Fencing Federation equipment and able body fencing coaches are taking interest to teach wheelchair fencing in their clubs.
“Last year Indian teams participated in three international events, seven fencers at the Canada World Cup, three fencers in Hungary for the World Championship and two fencers in Sharjah for the Youth World Championship.”