Sport Week: Top moments in wheelchair fencing

Standout moments from Rio 2016 to Barcelona 1992 30 Jun 2020
Young woman shows a medal and smiles
Beatrice Vio live up to expectations at Rio 2016
ⒸAugusto Bizzi

Wheelchair fencing goes a long way back since its first appearance at the Paralympics in 1960. Here are a few standout moments from the recent Games.

1. Bebe Vio becomes Paralympic icon


Having gone 11 tournaments undefeated in the lead-up to Rio 2016, 19-year-old Bebe Vio of Italy was the overwhelming favourite for foil B gold, and she did not disappoint on her Paralympic debut.

Facing China’s Jingjing Zhou in the final, Vio quickly built up a 13-7 lead but there were tense moments before she could seal the title. At one point, Zhou’s weapon pierced Vio’s mask and the latter needed ice applied to the back of her head. Vio, who overcame meningitis early in her life, remained undeterred and showed resolve to return and win the contest at 15-7. 

2. Yu Chui Yee emerges as one of sport’s best


Hong Kong’s Yu Chui Yee burst into the scene with her Paralympic debut in 2004. A bone cancer survivor, Yu discovered wheelchair fencing during rehab and her talent shined bright when she claimed four gold (individual and team foil/epee category A). She went on to compete at Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016, winning seven more medals (three golds), and is still going for her fifth Games in Tokyo next year.

Yu Chui Yee (middle) at London 2012


3. Paralympic and Olympic glory


Hungary’s Pal Szekeres entered into history books with his Paralympic title at Barcelona 1992. He won individual foil and became the first person to win a Paralympic and Olympic medal in the sport. He had won bronze at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games as a professional fencer before a bus accident in 1991 when he was returning from a fencing competition in Germany. After recovering, Szekeres opted to attend a wheelchair fencing camp nearby where the German team was training for the European Championships. One of Germany’s coaches, a Hungarian, spoke with Szekeres’ doctor and persuaded him to allow his patient to compete in the Championships. His fencing skills never left him, and next thing he knew, he was a Paralympic champion.


Pal Szekeres


4. Home glory


China dominated the piste in their home Paralympic Games in 2008, winning six of the 10 events. Hu Daoliang and Ye Ruyi each, won a pair of gold medals. Chinese athletes had also made it to every final except the men’s sabre B. China would have won more, but Hong Kong’s Chan Yui Chong and Yu Chui Yee served spoils by winning their respective gold medal events against their Chinese counterparts. 


5. Brazil on board

Brazil made a dramatic Paralympic debut in the sport at London 2012, with Jovane Silva Guissone winning gold in the epee category B event. It was a nail-biting victory, with Guissone striking the winning blow on Hong Kong’s Chik Sum Tam for the 16-15 victory.