5 wheelchair fencing storylines to follow

The 2017 World Championships are less than two months away 20 Sep 2017
Jianquan Tian CHN (left) vs Gang Sun CHN in the Men's Individual Épée - Category A Semi-final Wheelchair Fencing in the Carioca Arena 3 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Jianquan Tian CHN (left) vs Gang Sun CHN in the Men's Individual Épée - Category A Semi-final Wheelchair Fencing in the Carioca Arena 3 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

ⒸThomas Lovelock for OIS/IOC
By Mike Stuart | For the IPC

The International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) Wheelchair Fencing World Championships 2017 will be held 7-12 November in Rome, Italy.

Here are the top storylines heading into those Championships:

1. Vio on course for another remarkable run

For most athletes, a run of five events would be headline news. But when the athlete is Italy’s Bebe Vio, such a sequence is almost expected. A silver medal in the women’s foil category B event at the IWAS World Cup in Warsaw, Poland, in July 2016 ended a staggering 11-tournament unbeaten run.

Vio immediately resumed her winning ways with a Paralympic debut gold at Rio 2016 just two months later. A successful defence of her World Championship title in Rome would take Vio over halfway to beating her own remarkable run of victories. Will anyone be able to stop her?

2. China's fencers in the ascendency

In this year’s World Cup in Warsaw, Poland, China flexed the strength of their squad, taking home 16 medals. The collective ability of China’s fencers was on full show in the team sabre events, where they took both the men’s and women’s titles.

With established competitors like men’s epee category A Paralympic champion Sun Gang joined by talented newcomers such as 17-year-old Gu Haiyan – the women’s sabre category A winner in Warsaw – China are the force to be reckoned with in Rome.

3. Is Yu Chui Yee back to her winning ways?

With seven Paralympic titles to her name, Hong Kong’s Yu Chui Yee is a great of the sport but has struggled in recent seasons. At the 2015 World Championships in Eger, Hungary, was unable to defend her foil category A title, finishing third. In the epee event she was disappointed to finish ninth.

Yu took a short break to regroup and her form then rallied. She narrowly missed out on an eighth Paralympic title in Rio, winning silver with the foil.

Having stated that success at the Worlds is her focus for 2017, attention will be on whether Yu can deliver in Rome. The epee category A gold medal she won at the recent World Cup in Warsaw will have her rivals worried.

4. Jana sets sights on fifth World title

Victory in Rome would make Thailand's Sayunsee Jana the women's epee category B world champion for the fifth consecutive time. Her strategy of saving her appearances for the major events makes Jana's form difficult to predict. She has competed in just four events since the 2015 Worlds, though medalled in each. One of those events was Rio 2016, where Jana almost defended her Paralympic title, losing 15-10 to China's Zhou Jingjing. Jana did compete at the past two World Cup events in Stadskanaal, Netherlands, and Warsaw, Poland, and left both with gold. Few would bet against her topping the Worlds podium again in Rome.

5. Shavkun on the rise?

In the men's epee and foil category C events, Ukraine's Serhii Shavkun will try to make up for his two silvers from two years ago. Shavkun has since the 2015 Worlds risen to No.1 spot in the epee rankings, defeating rival Russia's Alexander Logutenko* in their past two meetings. In the foil contest, it was Loguenko who emerged victorious from the pair's two previous bouts. When the pair face off in Rome, the fencing promises to be fierce.

The IWAS World Championships takes place 7–12 November in Rome, Italy.

*Editor’s note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games. For further information please click here.