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Beatrice 'Bebe' Vio

The story of a 19 years 4 year long journey and rise to become a Paralympic champion.

Editor's note: There should be a video here of Beatrice Vio yelling unfortunately I could get only the part of the video I wanted to play to do so. Try to imagine.

This became a very familiar noise at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. It belonged to 19-year old wheelchair fencer Beatrice Vio. She wailed like that every single time she won a point, which was quite frequently. Because as we’ll see she is very good at both.

For those unfamiliar with the sport of wheelchair fencing, here's a quick rundown

- There are 3 disciplines: Épée, Foil, and Sabre each with different swords, target areas, and techniques

- Athletes are put into categories (A,B,C) based on their functional ability

- Athletes are strapped into wheelchairs and must use their upper bodies to lunge and score points

- Beatrice Vio is very very good at that previous rule

Vio is the only competitor in her sport to have no arms or legs, because of this she competes in Individual foil category B. Which she has dominated since popping up on the international rankings.

This was her tournament record coming into the 2016 Paralympics. That one 10th place came back in 2013 when she was 16. Since then she hasn’t finished outside the top 3.

Then came Rio.

The tournament previous to the 2016 Paralympics was the first time she hadn’t won in the last 2 years in August 2014. Vio was still the obvious favourite coming into the round robin and she showed us why.

The matches were first to score five hits wins. She did it every single time all the while never even receiving a hit against her. The single elimination playoff turned matches into a first to 15, so Vio finally conceded a total of 7 points in the quarter-final and semi-final combined. In that semi-final victory she knocked off Fang Yao, the defending Paralympic champion only allowing Yao to get one hit in.

Zhou Jingjing was the last opponent left for Vio to beat. Zhou had finished 2nd in the other round robin group and beat the 1st seed from her group to get here. To balance the narrative out a bit let me remind you that Zhou is 10 years older than Vio. She proved to be Vio’s toughest competition after going down early.

She battled back.

An intense bout lead to Zhou sword accidentally coming down on top of Vio. Completely unfazed from the stray hit ‘Bebe’ vio took control of the match and one it swiftly.

And with that final strike the 19 year old became a Paralympic champion.


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