ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Adaptive sports offer individuals with disabilities tailored opportunities for physical activity, promoting inclusive and personal growth. Athletes in adaptive sports demonstrate resilience and determination while competing at various levels, fostering a sense of community and empowerment. 

Athletes Braiden Wingrove and Austin King describe themselves as blind yet have set their sights on mastering the art of fencing.

What You Need To Know

  • Adaptive sports provide tailored opportunities for individuals with disabilities

  • Blind athletes Braiden Wingrove and Austin King are mastering fencing with the support of their coach

  • They aim to inspire others and have aspirations to compete in national championships

"I had an interest in the sport because it had a lot of physical activity," said athlete Braiden Wingrove.

"It feels nice to be in a sport where people have the same setbacks as I do," added athlete Austin King. 

With the help of their coach, they are honing their skills and proving that limitations are only what you make of them. 

"We have a different attitude here that's more about inclusion and more about training altogether, no matter what the level of fencers is," said Semion Kiriakidi, owner of Ludus Fencing Studio. 

Ludus Fencing Studio and Rochester Accessible Adventures teamed up to make sports inclusive for everyone.

Wingrove is totally blind and King still has some of his sight. Both athletes fence against people who have 100% sight, so fencers use a blindfold to even the playing field.

"So basically, the two blind fencers start with their weapons together, and then the coach gives the command. From there, we have to rely on our listening skills to figure out where each person is, and it's about poking at them with your sword," Wingrove added.

Fencers are connected to this cable, ensuring a straight line. A goal number is set, and whoever reaches the number first wins.

"It's an enriching experience," King added. 

They are not just athletes; they are pioneers, breaking down barriers in the sport and for all people who are blind.

"There is a movement to include blind fencing in the Paralympic program," Kiriakidi added.

"It's amazing and makes me think that other blind people should be involved in fencing," Wingrove said. 

Wingrove and King want to fence in the national championship in the future.