Five things we learned about wheelchair fencing at Rio 2016
It was a terrific five days of fencing action in Carioca Arena 3. Here’s five things that we learned during Rio 2016.17 Sep 2016
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
1. The key to Bebe Vio’s success is not what you might think…
Even though it was her first Paralympic Games as a competitor (Vio was a torchbearer at London 2012), the 19-year-old showed no hint of nerves as she outclassed the best foil category B fencers in the world to win gold in Rio.
The key to her incredible performances? Apparently it is all down to her toy mascot.
“The credit for this success actually belongs to 'Squacchero', my stuffed animal that is always with me, even when I fence on the piste.” Vio explained.
“Luckily he was with me during the final bout, because I was worried that he would not pass the technical test but then he made it too!"
2. Zszuzsanna Krajnyak’s pursuit of gold continues
Rio 2016 was the fifth Paralympics for Hungary’s Zsuzsanna Krajnyak. She first competed at Sydney 2000 and has now medalled at every Games since but never won gold.
As such, 37-year-old Krajnyak has refused to rule out a return at Tokyo 2020. “We'll see if I'll compete in Tokyo,” Krajnyak said. “It’s going to be my 20th anniversary at the Paralympic Games. Maybe.”
3. China’s wheelchair fencing squad is unrivalled.
When a Paralympic champion does not make it into the line-up for the team events, you know the opponents should be worried.
China’s Yanke Feng won gold in the Rio 2016 individual foil category B event, but was not one of the fencers selected for the team foil competition.
The best evidence of the strength of China’s fencing squad is the medals table. Chinese wheelchair fencers topped the standings at Rio 2016 by some distance, winning 17 of the 27 available medals, nine of them gold.
Looking ahead to the 2017 season, China’s wheelchair fencers are definitely the ones to beat.