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Paralympic Sports: Wheelchair Fencing

Hungary’s Krajnyak out to retain European title

The wheelchair fencing veteran views the European Championships as a stepping stone toward her first Paralympic gold. 15 May 2016 By Mike Stuart | For the IPC

“This will be my fifth Paralympic Games, and it’s just the gold medal that’s missing. If I win I think I will be the happiest person in the world forever.”

Even if it feels like just a milestone for Zsuzsanna Krajnyak, defending her European title in Italy would feel like one step closer to winning her first ever Paralympic gold medal.

The 37-year-old Hungarian enters the International Wheelchair Fencing and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) European Championships as the defending champion in the women’s category A epee event. She is also the current world No. 1 in the event. When the European Championships get underway on Tuesday (17 May) in Casale Monferrato near Turin, Krajnyak is confident she can retain her title.

“There have always been rivals and there always be rivals,” Krajnyak explained. “But if I am in good shape I will be on the podium [in Turin].”

However for Krajnyak, the European Championships, which run until 22 May, are a secondary goal in 2016. The experienced Hungarian has already competed in four Paralympic Games and won eight medals, though all of them silver or bronze. A gold medal in Rio is a prize that Krajnyak values above all else.

According to Krajnyak, “every day at the moment is about getting ready for the biggest competition. The competitions in between are just milestones now. We will be ready for Rio.”

The “we” Krajnyak refers to is long-time coach Viktor Feczer, whom Krajnyak attributes a lot of her success:

“As long as I’m fencing I will work with Viktor,” she said. “We work together very well, as our results show. Without his professional knowledge I would not be so successful.”

Feczer is also helping Krajnyak keep a calm head as Rio 2016 gets closer.

“I’m not stressed when I look ahead to Rio. I am just working hard and I have faith in my work, which I hope will be enough. I think I’m very lucky because I get to do what I love – fence.”

Though Kranjyak’s love for fencing is clear, her approach to preparations for the Paralympics is business-like, to such an extent that even a title in Casale Monferrato will not be celebrated.

“I will only celebrate after the Paralympic Games,” Krajnyak said. “Now is about working hard all the time, this is the most important thing.”

But if that elusive gold medal is achieved in Rio, Krajnyak admitted she will not be able to hide her emotions:

“This will be my fifth Paralympic Games, and it’s just the gold medal that’s missing. If I win I think I will be the happiest person in the world forever.”

For more information on the 2016 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing European Championships, visit the event website.