Cheongju 2019: Italy’s Bebe Vio in a league of her own in wheelchair fencing

Italian bags third successive title in women’s foil category B 20 Sep 2019
Female fencer smiles holding gold medal
Bebe Vio won the women’s foil category B gold medal at Cheongju 2019
ⒸAugusto Bizzi | IWAS

Italy’s Paralympic champion Beatrice Vio is clearly on a roll. The 22 year  old added another medal to her impressive tally by winning third consecutive wheelchair fencing world title in Cheongju, South Korea, on Thursday. 

Vio outplayed China’s World Championships debutant Xiao Rong 15-5 to claim the top honours in the women’s foil B. Russia’s Ludmila Vasileva settled for the bronze with bronze alongside Thailand’s Saysunee Jana.

“The final was great. This Chinese girl is very, very strong," said Vio, who was all over her opponent right from the start – striking away with ease, scoring eight points on the trot as Rong struggled. 

“Normally I fence against [China’s Jingjing] Zhou who was in the final of Rio de Janeiro [2016 Paralympic Games] so I was a little bit scared because I don’t really know how she [Rong] fences and how she is and how fast and strong she is,” added Vio. 

The Chinese fencer somehow managed one more touch, but in the end the lead was too much for her to breach. 

“For me it was quite difficult but then in the end, we did a lot of training. I started training for eight hours a day in the middle of August so I just have to thank everyone - my doctors, coaches and physios, because when you see an athlete with a medal, it is not just the athlete there is a big team behind.”

First-timer finalists 

The men’s foil A final between Chinese teammates and debutants Sai Chun Zhong and Liqiang Chen was another keenly contested affair.

With the score at 13-11, the closing stages saw Zhong further zone in on Chen and draw level at 14-14. However, Chen held his nerve and went on to claiming his first world title.

“I am very happy and excited. I want to thank IWAS, the Chinese Disabled Persons Federation and my coach and all the staff and officials,” said an elated Chen. 

“Based on my practice and hard training every day with my coach and teammates, I had the determination with the last hit to fight with my opponent.

“It’s so tough and intensive, especially the last two fights, but the only thing in my mind was winning the match.”

Zhong settled for silver but will be encouraged by his win over defending champion Richard Osvath on Hungary on the way to the final.

Russia’s Artur Yusopov rounded off the podium with bronze. China’s Rio 2016 bronze medallist Gang Sun also finished third after he was knocked-out in the semi-finals by Chen.

Bebe Vio vs Xiao Rong in the final


Shavkun keeps shining

Ukraine’s Serhii Shavkun retained his title from 2017 in the men’s epee category C.

The Ukrainian triumphed over Russia’s Dmitry Belyaev, 15-7.

Belyaev’s silver sees him improve on his bronze medal from two years ago.

Latvia’s Dmitrijs Valainis and Italy’s William Russo grabbed bronze.

As wheelchair fencing tries to further develop its pool of category C athletes, an International Tournament was held for women’s foil fencers.

Ukraine’s Hannah Pashkova was the victor, beating Russia’s Anna Gladilina 15-8.

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 on IWAS’ website as well as live results during the competition. The Worlds are also being shown on Facebook and YouTube.