Belarus’ Anastasia Kastsiuchkova is aiming high for the 2018 Wheelchair Fencing European Championships in Terni, Italy, in 50 days’ time.
Back in 2016 Kastsiuchkova stunned Georgia’s world No. 1 Irma Khetsuriani in the women’s sabre category B to claim gold.
Now the Belarusian is gearing up to retain her title from 17-23 September. She is training hard to overcome an ever-deepening field of athletes and to adjust to changes in the distance between fencers in the sabre introduced earlier in the year.
“I am doing my best to keep my champion title,” Kastsiuchkova said. “The increase of the level in the wheelchair fencing and the latest changes in the distance make me trouble a little bit and make me revise my technique completely – it was not easy. I hope to have enough time to make the changes and hope for the best.”
So far in 2018 Kastsiuchkova has competed at two IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Cups. In Eger, Hungary, in February, the European champion finished 14th in the sabre. However in Warsaw, Poland, she reached the podium once again, grabbing bronze.
“The level of wheelchair fencing has increased greatly in recent times. There are a lot of new promising athletes. So I need to analyse and change accordingly my training plan. I am not fully satisfied with the results of the last year but it is just the reason to work harder to reach better results.”
The 26-year-old also has one eye on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games which are just over two years away. Terni 2018 offers Kastsiuchkova a chance to take stock of her progress.
“As the European Championships is not the qualifying tournament for the Tokyo Paralympic Games it is just a step in my training and the possibility to check myself,” she said.
“I hope to win a medal and to show my best.”
The 2018 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing European Championships take place from 17-23 September. Results will be available online throughout the competition.