"We are full of emotions right now because we are new partners actually..."
The Philippines’ Rhea Marquez and Jun Julius Obero pulled the biggest surprise at the 2015 IPC Wheelchair Dance Sport World Championships on Sunday (8 November) in Rome, Italy.
The duo were crowned the combi freestyle class 2 world champions, spoiling the gold-medal streak of Russia’s Galina Ryzhkova and Viacheslav Osipov.
“We were shocked when they called us as the World Champions,” Marquez said. “We are speechless. We don’t know what to say. We are full of emotions right now because we are new partners actually,” said Marquez, who along with Obero just missed the podium in Saturday’s combi Latin class 2, which went to the Russians.
This time, in close scoring, the Filipinos edged Ryzhkova and Osipov by slim margins in technique, choreography and presentation. Ryzhkova and Osipov claimed the silver medal, and the bronze medal went to compatriots Svetlana Kukushkina and Maksim Sedakov.
The final day of the World Championships included five more medal events.
Ryzhkova took three titles of the four she competed in over the two days, including gold in the women’s single freestyle class 2 to add to the European title she won last year. Ukraine’s Olena Chynka took home the silver, just edging Kazakhstan’s Nargiza Akhmetova in the choreography and presentation category.
After taking second at the 2014 European Championships, Sedakov returned to take the men’s single class 2 title. Sedakov was the judges’ favourite in every category (waltz, tango, samba, rumba and jive). Germany’s European champion Erik Machens settled for the silver, and Russia's Sergey Antonov finished with the bronze medal.
“My coaches gave me re-assurance on what to do for this dance,” Sedakov said. “At times it was hectic, but my coaches helped guide me.”
After taking silver in Saturday’s combi Latin class 2, Belarus’s Hanna Harchakova and Ihar Kisialiou left Rome with gold in the combi standard class 2. They were the judges favourite in four of the five dances – quickstep, waltz, tango and Viennese waltz. Italians Susanna Spugnoli and Francesco Galuppo put on a silver-medal performance in front of their home crowd. Russia’s Tatiana Skortcova and Stanislav Seshukov came away with the bronze.
In the class 1 equivalent, Slovakia’s Helena Kasicka and Peter Vidasic landed the gold, a gratifying performance after taking silver in Saturday’s combi Latin class 1. South Korea’s Jang Hye-Jeong and Lee Jae Woo sealed the silver, and Belarus’ Veranika Kasach and Aliaksei Zukhtsikau claimed the bronze medal.
“Our emotions right now are a build up from five years, because we have been working for this event for five years,” Vidasic said. “It is really a pleasure for us to be here, to win this.”
“We have been partners for 11 years and have won titles and gold medals. But then there was a break for two years. So now we have come back.”
The final gold medal of the World Championships went to Ukraine’s husband-wife duo Nadiia and Ivan Sivak in the duo Latin class 2 event, putting Russia’s Aleksandra Berdnik and Antonov in second; Poland’s Joanna Reda and Pawel Karpinski came away with the bronze medal.
Rome 2015 was the first time singles and freestyle competitions were introduced. About 150 athletes from nearly 25 countries competed in the two-day event. For more information, visit the event website paralympic.org/wheelchair-dance-sport/rome-2015.
Pictures will be available at www.flickr.com/photos/Paralympic.
Day one recap