“There are a lot of strong athletes in my category and all of them have much more experience than me, so every time I get on the wheelchair I fear them, and I fear failing to fence well.”
Italy’s 18-year-old Beatrice Vio won gold in the women’s foil category B in October’s International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) World Cup event in Paris, France. That victory marked an incredible seven major tournament wins in a row and comes in as No. 23 in the International Paralympic Committee’s Top 50 Moments of 2015.
Vio still has one more competition to go this year. If she wins gold in her event at the World Cup event in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (16-21 December), the Italian teenager would seal an entire season undefeated.
“I am certainly not unbeatable,” Vio claims. “Many times I've almost lost during the competition, but fortunately it did not happen.”
Vio’s last defeat came more than a year ago, when she lost by just a point to Hungary’s Gyongi Dani in the semi-final at the World Cup in Warsaw, held September 2014. Since then, Vio has won six World Cup golds.
Then in September, she secured her first Word Championship title in Budapest, Hungary.
Despite all her successes, Vio said she is still nervous before competing.
Things change, however, the moment the fight begins.
“There are a lot of strong athletes in my category and all of them have much more experience than me, so every time I get on the wheelchair I fear them, and I fear failing to fence well,” Vio said. “Fortunately, when the mask drops, fear turns into adrenaline and then competitive aggression.
“Then happiness comes, whether I win or lose, because I love fencing.
“Sure, OK, if I win I’m a bit happier at the end.”
Although she admits to anxiety before fencing, Vio said her unbeaten run does not add pressure going into the World Cup in Sharjah.
“I don't know if I'll win, but it doesn’t matter,” Vio said. “Sooner or later I’ll have to lose and it is better now than at the 2016 European Championships in Italy, or in Rio.”
Next year’s Paralympic Games have been a goal for Vio since she exploded onto the wheelchair fencing scene after London 2012 and her current form makes her the favourite for gold.
For now though, she is content to look back on an incredible season, regardless of the outcome in Sharjah.
“It has been a fantastic year, at school, in fencing and life in general. I'm really satisfied with my 2015.”
To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2015, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website.