Cheongju 2019: China take epee and foil team world titles

Individual Paralympic title-holder Xufeng Zou pulled her team away to take the World Championship gold for China 22 Sep 2019
Two wheelchair fencers battling
2017 world champions Italy faced Paralympic gold medallists China in the men's foil team final at Cheongju 2019
ⒸAugusto Bizzi | IWAS

Chinese wheelchair fencers swept the podium at the 2019 Wheelchair Fencing World Championships in Cheongju, South Korea, on Saturday, claiming gold in both men’s and women’s team events.

Paralympic champions China won the women’s epee team world title after new individual champions Shumei Tan and Xufeng Zou, as well as silver medallist Jing Bian, won the majority of their match-ups against defending champions Hong Kong.

The clash was a repeat of the final from the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Hong Kong, who fielded Paralympic epee team medallists Yu Chui Yee and Justine Charissa Ng alongside Nga Ting Tong, kept China within sight in the first few rounds.

However China’s individual Paralympic title-holder Xufeng Zou started to pull her team away when she entered the piste. Whilst Yee kept scoring whenever she was up, she could not keep up with Tan, Zou and Bian. Her teammates also struggled to land touches and the match ended 44-32 to China.

“It is the teamwork that wins the game. Each of us supports each other and we each encourage each other to fight with the opponents. I also want to thank our coach because before every match the coach will tell us how to fight the opponents and take all the advantages we have,” the group said through an interpreter.

 “We have the belief and a goal to win at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. This is our belief in our ourselves, to make Chinese wheelchair fencing that strong.”

Rio 2016 bronze medallists Hungary repeated their performance from the 2017 Worlds with third place.

Amarilla Veres, Zsuzsanna Krajnyak and Gyongi Dani halted the run of Thailand’s Saysunee Jana, Duean Nakprasit and Cholthacha Bussayawiphathorn in the bronze medal match.

Thailand had been on a roll, beating world no.3 Ukraine in the quarter-finals. But their success ended at the hands of the Hungarians with a final score of 45-32.

The men’s foil team final was a face-off between 2017 world champions Italy and Paralympic gold medallists China.

China entered an incredibly strong team, all of which were top three finishers from the weapon in Cheongju from earlier on in the week.

New world and current Paralympic champion Yanke Feng, Paralympic and 2019 Worlds bronze medallist Gang Sun and Sai Chun Zhong, the silver medallist, all lined-up.

Their opponents Italy entered determined to defend their title, putting forward exactly the same fencers that won gold two years ago. Matteo Betti, Marco Cima and Emanuele Lambertini took on China.

The Asian trio proved too strong for the Italians. As soon as Zhong entered the fray in the third match against Cima, the momentum went firmly with the Chinese.

Feng, Zhong and Gang were the first to 45 points with Gang landing the winning touches of the competition.

“I am very happy and very satisfied with the result,” Gang said. “I want to thank my teammates because the event was made by them. It was a tough match because we are all feeling a little bit tight [after competing in the individual events] and it makes it harder.”

Albert Kamalov, the Worlds bronze medallist from Tuesday (17 September), Roman Fedyaev and Artur Yusopov took bronze for Russia after breezing past Poland, 45-25. Their latest podium finish adds to their silver from 2017.

The 2019 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Championships run from 17-23 September. As well as the world titles on offer, the competition is also a crucial stop on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Full results are available here as well as live results during the competition. The Worlds are also being shown on Facebook and YouTube.