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Paralympic Sports: Wheelchair Fencing

Beatrice Vio continues chasing victory

Wheelchair fencing sensation aims for third European gold 23 Aug 2018
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female wheelchair fencer Beatrice Vio bites a gold medal and smiles
The hunger for more gold keeps Beatrice Vio at the top of the wheelchair fencing world
ⒸGetty Images
By Tim Norris and the IPC

“This is my aim in any competition, no matter which level it is, where we are, and who I fence against, I want to win. Someone said, ‘It’s not important to win but to participate.’ I’m sorry, but I think it’s not really true.”

Fresh from her holiday, Italy’s Beatrice Vio is back and focused on defending her title on home piste at September’s Wheelchair Fencing European Championships in Terni.

Before her trip to the Italian island Elba, Vio had claimed her eighth consecutive foil category B victory in July’s World Cup. While winning might appear to be getting redundant for Vio, her motivation for more gold goes deeper.

“This is my aim in any competition, no matter which level it is, where we are, and who I fence against, I want to win,” Vio said. “Someone said, ‘It’s not important to win but to participate.’ I’m sorry, but I think it’s not really true.”

The tournament runs from 17-23 September and the Paralympic champion looks forward to competing in front of a home crowd, with family and friends watching. They know the journey she has been on to become the champion she is today.

“I started fencing when I was five and immediately fell in love with the sport,” Vio continued.

“At that time, I practised standing fencing. Even as a child, my dream was to participate in the Olympic Games and when I got meningitis at 12, I turned my dream to the Paralympic Games instead. And I never stopped chasing victory.

“And it’s the same for almost each athlete I know. Anyone wants to win, none of us takes part to a competition ‘just to participate.’ The goal is the same, to win. Or, at least, to take a medal.”

Winning ways

The 21-year-old already owns European, world and Paralympic golds, and that form has continued into this season.

“I’ve performed well,” Vio said. “I’ve won the three World Cups I’ve taken part in. But the hardest competitions are still to come.”

At the 2014 Europeans in Strasbourg, France, Vio won gold in both the team and individual competitions. While at her home Europeans at Torino 2016, she missed out on team gold but won the individual. She will look to win both titles this time around.

“I want to win, both in the individual and team competitions,” she emphasised. It is that desire to win and dedication to her training that makes Vio one of the best wheelchair fencers in the world.

“I train a lot,” Vio said. “I moved to live in Rome at the start of this year to study at the John Cabot, the American University in Rome, and started training with my national team colleagues. It’s hard but fantastic!”