Ellen Geddes competes in the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 26, 2021 in Tokyo.
Ellen Geddes was recovering from a broken back suffered in a 2011 auto accident when she discovered the sport of wheelchair fencing.
“I ran into fencing kind of happenstance,” Geddes recalled.
She was at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta doing spinal cord injury rehab when she learned of a fencing team there.
“Their team captain asked me if I thought it would be fun to stab people,” Geddes said, “and here we are.”
Eleven years later, the 34-year-old is among the world’s top Para fencers wielding an epee or foil. She was No. 1 in the U.S. in both disciplines in 2021. Not bad for a former equestrienne who had never picked up either weapon before her accident.
“I enjoyed it enough to continue working on it,” Geddes said. “I started fencing in 2012, and it’s taken me quite a while to be successful internationally. It definitely is a skill-intensive sport. I took to it well enough to stick with it.”
Geddes, a 2020 U.S. Paralympian from Aiken, South Carolina, is amid her best season in the sport. To date in 2022, she has collected a combined 10 individual and team medals in zonal and world cup competitions in category B, which includes athletes who have an impairment that affects their trunk or their fencing arm.
“It’s been a very good season,” she said. “I put in quite a bit of work. I’m happy that it’s paying off.”
At a Nov. 17-20 world cup event in Eger, Hungary, Geddes earned a bronze medal in foil.
“I was very close to getting into the medal round in epee and then one touch out of being in the finals in foil,” Geddes said. “I was happy with my results but certainly felt like I could have done better.
“Overall, it was a good experience. It was a good first world cup for the qualification for (Paralympic Games Paris 2024), put me in a good position moving forward.”
Geddes will look to build on her Paralympic performances last year in Tokyo, where she was seventh in epee team, eighth in foil team, 10th in individual foil and 11th in individual epee.
“I certainly have a goal of medaling at the Paris Games,” she said. “Where everything sits now, I am planning on … continuing fencing and fencing for LA (in 2028). But I do continually reserve the right to change my mind on that, though.”