Paris 2024: Seven hours of daily training fuels Triantafyllou's fencing preparation

With 50 days to go until the Paris 2024 Paralympics, Greek wheelchair fencer Panagiotis Triantafyllou shares his training routine and his passion outside of sports 09 Jul 2024
Two wheelchair fencers in action at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games
Panagiotis Triantafyllou won a bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
ⒸJoe Toth/OIS
By AMP Media | For IPC

Three-time Paralympian Panagiotis Triantafyllou starts his day with a coffee and a light breakfast before the hard work begins.

In ‘normal’ circumstances, the Greek wheelchair fencer would look at a two-hour spell of training but preparing for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games is far from normal. Now he works a lot longer.

“In a normal situation, without competitions, we do about two hours every day. In view of the Paralympic [Games], the trainings reach seven hours every day,” said Triantafyllou.


Flying the flag for Greece

“I was lucky this year that it was relatively close to my house. Every morning, I was drinking my coffee, eating a light breakfast and starting my day.”

Triantafyllou, who is paralysed from the chest down following a car accident in 2004, finished eighth in the men’s sabre individual category B at London 2012, won the silver medal at Rio 2016 and took bronze at Tokyo 2020.

It is that memory of Brazil which helps drive him on to Paris.

“It was my worst moment in wheelchair fencing. The final where I didn’t win the gold [against Anton Datsko of Ukraine]. My most memorable moment was my first participation in London where I had the misfortune to play against a fellow Greek athlete and in the end no-one won a medal.”

“Of course, I am very proud that I have managed to compete three times at the Paralympic Games and win two medals. I am proud that I managed to raise the Greek flag in the biggest sports event.”

In Tokyo he received personal congratulations from the president and prime minister after winning the first Greek medal of the Games. Now the fencer has another target in his sights and that is to bring home a medal from Paris.

Triantafyllou made his Paralympic debut at London 2012. @Joe Toth/OIS


Training for Paris 

Triantafyllou has company as he follows his training schedule. Teammate Vassilis Dounis joins him under the tutelage of Dimitris Kazaglis.

“He is the only coach in Greece. And the only teammate I have is Vassilis,” Triantafyllou said. “Usually, the training takes place in the morning. Depending on what competitions we have in front of us, the training hours and the training methods change.

“We definitely change some methods to adapt to similar and new opponents.”

Triantafyllou finished fifth at the 2023 World Championships and was 11th at the European Championships this year.

The competitions give him a chance to practice against different fencers in a different environment. It is then that he can measure his training progress.

“A training is going well when you see that the speed has increased and there are more correct attacks with a goal and better defenses,” he said.

It is not all about the physical side of the sport, though.

“I watch my diet and my nutrition as it is important to control for the necessary flexibility and strength. I also use the gym and special exercises during training.

“Psychology plays a very important role in everything, especially in sports. So, there is a psychologist who helps me a lot.”

As the intensity increases going into Paris 2024, Triantafyllou will look to ways of relaxing. Fishing is his big passion. More surprisingly, perhaps, is that he finds calm through singing.

Triantafyllou is a two-time Paralympic medallist. @Joe Toth/OIS


In tune with the demands of 2024

In 2022 he was invited to join a reality TV show called Two of Us where a professional singer partners an amateur.

Triantafyllou was paired with jazz singer Fotini Darra and they finished third. They have kept in touch since the programme went out.

“I really liked my appearance on this show as I love singing and want to do it in the future. I learned a lot next to a professional singer.

“I knew I could sing, but I didn't know the degree. They found me through my social media where I sing sometimes, and they offered me to join the show.”

He appeared in the televised show while also training wheelchair basketball every day at the time. So, it was not always easy to balance the two activities. But at the same time, he believes it has raised awareness of disability. 

“Certainly having a person with a disability on TV and showing that they can do many things is important because it shows that we are creative and productive in many fields.”

Triantafyllou has already proved how positive sport can be.

“Sports entered my life from an early age and, like in the whole world, sports gave me a cleaner and better way of thinking about many things, as well as physical and mental health. It is inevitable that I will retire but I don’t know when, yet.”


Discover more about wheelchair fencing and the 22 sports in the Paris 2024 Paralympic sports programme 

Book your tickets for the Paralympic Games by visiting the Paris 2024 ticketing website