Are you aware of Wheelchair Fencing? It’s a worldwide sport – Great Britain won a silver medal in the 2016 Paralympics for it – with over 60 participating countries and what’s more, it’s suitable for most disabilities! It has also changed 29 year old Jonathan Collins’ life! Jonathan was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus and is a full time wheelchair user. In 2004 an undiagnosed shunt failure left him with poor eyesight. That’s when he decided to take action
After being told there was a local Fencing club in Chichester (his home town), Jonathan went along and met his Wheelchair Fencing Trainer Viv Mills, who is well known in the Wheelchair Fencing world. Since then, Jonathan has attended some Team GB training sessions and has met some of Great Britain’s top Wheelchair Fencers!
Fencing has had a great impact on Jonathan’s life, so much so that he has even written a book about it! Into the Frame gives a unique insight into the sport. Herts Ability caught up with Jonathan for an exclusive chat about the book, and how he has the ability to achieve all this sporting and personal goals in 2020 and beyond!
“Hi Jonathan! You’re now a published author – congratulations! – please could you tell us more about how the project came about; the premise for the book, and most importantly, why our readers should buy it?”
“In December of 2016 I was contacted on Facebook by a lady, Sonia Sanghani, who had seen a clip of me Fencing that went viral. She was passionate about getting disability sports to a wider audience. She had written a book titled Stumps and Cranks about Amputee cycling and she was very eager to get more books on disability sports published.
“Sonia asked if I would consider writing a book on the subject of Wheelchair Fencing and she promised she would give me as much support as she could. Hence the start of my book Into the Frame. As promised Sonia was there whenever I needed help and advice. So after many phone calls, emails and face-to-face contact, for which she travelled many miles, Into the Frame was finished and published by Amazon in January 2019.
The book gives an informative insight into the world of Wheelchair Fencing; it contains a history of the sport, plus shows pictures of the clothing and equipment required, including the types of weapons used. It also includes basic rules and life stories of other Wheelchair Fencers – including some world champions!”
“What’s it like to be a wheelchair fencer?”
“I am physically stronger, mentally more alert, healthier and happier due to this fantastic sport!”
“What’s been your greatest sporting achievement to date?”
“My best achievement was when I won gold in the Mixed Sabre at the Novice Challenge, which was a side competition of the British Disability Fencing (BDF) National Championships 2018.”
“Finally, what’s next for Jonathan?”
“My plans for the future are to continue improving my Wheelchair Fencing skills and to continue via social media to get more people aware that the sport exists! This will hopefully lead to an increase in the number of Wheelchair Fencers at local clubs and who knows they may become world champions in their own right!
The coverage of the 2016 Paralympics has improved the awareness of disabilities and hopefully the coverage of the 2020 Paralympics will do the same. However, I would like to see a regular television programme or, even better, a TV channel set aside for lesser known disability sports.”
Don’t sit on the fence – indulge your passion for Fencing by signing up to your local club in St Albans, Hertfordshire: https://www.teampdfa.co.uk/