Scientists carrying out research to create an evidence-based sports classification system for wheelchair fencing have published the findings of their first study.
Lead researcher Alexandre Villiere from Middlesex University in London authored The physical characteristics underpinning performance of wheelchair fencing athletes: A Delphi study of Paralympic coaches, alongside other scientists.
This has been published in the Journal of Sports Sciences.
A Delphi study is a survey that aims at bringing together the views of experts, recognising the values of their experience in a certain area.
A total of 16 wheelchair fencing coaches were invited to take part in three rounds of questioning.
Researchers then took their responses and drew a consensus on which qualities of speed, strength, power, flexibility and motor control of the trunk and fencing arm area are associated with increased athletic access.
"This study provides clear guidance of the physical qualities to be developed to maximise athletic performance while also providing the initial framework to guide future WF [wheelchair fencing] classification research," read the abstract for the paper.
As well as making recommendations on classification, Villiere and his team also hopes to improve the knowledge base for wheelchair fencing.
The paper states: "The information provided by this study may provide further insight into the sport and therefore guide the research community in designing alternative measures of impairment which could help assess its relative contribution to sporting performance.
"Whilst the primary focus of this research is classification related, the information presented in this study can aid coaches and sports scientists better understand performance in WF [wheelchair fencing]."
Research started in 2019 before being paused in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The next step in the research is to identify the key activities in wheelchair fencing by focusing on time motion characteristics, with the outcome of this aiding the development of some sport-specific tests representing the distinctive movements observed in the sport.
This could then enable the research team to assess the relationship between measures of impairment and measures of performance.