Ryan Estep of Florence is ranked number one in the U.S. in wheelchair fencing in epee style, where points are scored with the tip of the weapon. Joey Brinson, also of Florence, is number one nationally in a style called sabre.
"I do sabre, it's a slashing weapon," Brinson said.
"It's such an adrenaline rush. Any time you get to stab somebody and not get in trouble for it, you gotta keep doing it," Estep said.
The two men, both left paraplegic after separate car accidents, have turned their disability into opportunity. Neither had tried fencing before their accident, but now they're on top of their game, heading to London to compete in the 2012 Paralympics.
"I just want to do everything in my power to represent the U.S. as best as I possibly can," Estep said.
Estep, 25, and Brinson, 36, received an official send-off Thursday at the Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson.
Ginny Boydston, team leader for the U.S. Wheelchair Fencing Team, joined them for the celebration.
Methodist Rehab is home to the Blade Rollers, a wheelchair fencing team. Methodist Rehab is sending the athletes to London, with help from the Mississippi Paralysis Association.
Estep and Brinson have traveled the world earning points to get the opportunity to compete on the world stage.
"It's really physically demanding. On top of that it's a mental game. That's the part you really need to master is the mental part of it," Brinson said.
Although they make it looks easy, the competition in London will be fierce.
"There's a couple of guys from France, a guy from Belarus," Estep said. "There's the powerhouse guys you always have to worry about."
But channeling that worry is part of what makes a champion.
"I can't wait. I'm excited. Let's do it," Brinson said.
Methodist Rehab is also sending a third athlete: 21-year-old track star Shaquille Vance, an amputee. Vance is currently training in California.
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