Jovane Silva Guissone does not need to worry about qualification for Rio 2016. As Brazil’s top-ranked male wheelchair fencer by some distance, Guissone qualifies under the host-nation allocation. But that does not mean he will be complacent when he takes to the piste at the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) Wheelchair Fencing Americas Championships.
For many American wheelchair fencers, the Championships is the final opportunity to qualify for Rio 2016. Winners at the event, taking place May 26–28 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, automatically gain a place at the Paralympic Games.
Free of this pressure, Guissone, who competes in men’s epee event category B, is hoping to boost his place in the general rankings since the Championships offers ranking points.
“My goal is to rank as high as possible, which means winning my events at the Championships,” Guissone said. “I am very pleased with my form as I have had very good results and am already qualified for Rio 2016.
“I am training very intensively, correcting what needs to be corrected and practicing new actions.”
Guissone is no stranger to the podium, having won gold at London 2012 – an achievement he aims to repeat in Rio.
“My country deserved that medal, my sport deserved an important title in order to develop itself and attract a bigger number of athletes practicing this sport in Brazil,” Guissone said.
“I am very confident for Rio 2016. I really want to defend my title and win my second Paralympic gold medal.”
Guissone knows what a gold medal can do not only for himself, but the sport and his country.
He does not want to pocket the glory for himself, but also add to Brazil’s overall goal as a top finisher in the medals standings.
“Wheelchair fencing in Brazil is developing itself slowly but surely,” he said. “And hosting the biggest sporting competition on the planet will help all sports grow together. Brazil placed seventh overall in London and our goal is to be placed fifth this time, and maybe one day be the country with the most medals overall.”
Guissone is confident the crowd will get the very best from the home nation’s athletes at Rio 2016, rather than put them under pressure.
“I think it will be very good to have the Paralympic and Olympic sports taking place at home. This way our people will feel closer, supporting and cheering us on, and we will get good results for our country.
“Added pressure is a given, but we have to know how to manage it and not let it get in the way.”
Visit the IWAS’s website for more information on the Wheelchair Fencing Americas Championships.