Sport Week: Wheelchair fencers to watch for

Here are 13 fencers to follow when swords are drawn at Rio 2016. 23 Jul 2016
A picture of 2 men in wheelchairs fencing.

Anton Datsko came away victorious in both the men’s foil and sabre category B events during the Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Eger, Hungary.

ⒸGetty Images
By Mike Stuart | For the IPC

Much has changed since the London 2012 Paralympic Games, with rising wheelchair fencers expected to battle for the top of the podium. Find out who they are, as well as veteran fencers who will rely on experience to keep them poised on the piste.

Xu Feng Zou (CHN) – Women’s epee category A

Zou burst onto the scene at the 2015 World Championships in Eger, Hungary. Entering ranked No. 22 in the world, Zou stunned spectators by easily beating Russian favourite Yuliya Efimova in the semi-final and then compatriot Jing Rong for the epee title. Zou followed the next day with gold in the foil.

Piers Gilliver (GBR) – Men’s epee, foil category A

World No. 1 Gilliver rapidly rose to the top since 2012, when he made his international debut by finishing 11th at a World Cup in Warsaw, Poland. There was a time when funding worries looked to force him off the road to Rio. Three World Cup wins in a row at the end of 2014 changed everything, propelling Gilliver into the limelight. He has not looked back since.

Amar Ali (IRQ) – Men’s epee category B

Ali quietly progressed through the rankings and now sits at the top. One of Iraq’s best hopes for gold medal glory at Rio 2016, Ali has shown he has what it takes to succeed at major events. He won gold at the 2015 World Championships and then took the Asian title in Hong Kong, China, in April.

Zsuzsanna Krajnyak (HUN) - Women’s foil, epee category A

Hungary’s veteran fencer Krajnyak will need to draw on her experience to succeed in the highly competitive women’s foil category A event. Krajnyak faces a battle for the title with China’s world No. 2 Rong, who has been in excellent form during Paralympic qualification. Krajnyak’s four previous Paralympic Games have seen her take bronze- and silver-medal positions on the podium, but never gold.

Yu Chui Yee (HKG) – Women’s foil, epee category A

Since winning golds in the epee and foil events at London 2012, Yee has struggled to return to her winning ways, reaching the podiums but rarely the very top. At the World Cup in Warsaw recently, she broke that winless spell by taking gold in the foil event. That might just be the break Yee needed before Rio 2016.

Gang Sun (CHN) – Men’s foil, epee category A

Since the start of 2015, Sun has appeared in the final of the men’s foil category A competition in every tournament he has entered. Watch for the rivalry between him and compatriot Ruyi Ye. Ye was the victor when the two met in the final at the World Championships in Eger. The tables were turned when Sun defeated Ye for the 2016 Asian Championship gold.

Beatrice Vio (ITA) – Women’s foil category B

As a torchbearer at London 2012, Vio dreamed of competing at the Paralympic Games. Four years on, the 19-year-old Italian heads to Rio as the reigning world and European champion. She was going for her 12th straight victory in a major competition until just last week, when she lost in the finals at the World Cup in Warsaw.

Daoliang Hu (CHN) – Men’s foil category B

Hu is out to defend his Paralympic title at Rio 2016, having maintained the form that saw him take gold at the last Games. At London 2012 he overcame Ukraine’s Anton Datsko in the final. However, Hu had an unexpected defeat to Chinese teammate Yan Ke Feng in the gold medal match at the 2016 Asian Championships.

Andrii Demchuk (UKR) – Men’s sabre category A

Demchuk can be erratic at times, which has led to inconsistent results. After taking bronze at the 2015 World Championships, Demchuk then only managed 15th place at a World Cup event a month later. Demchuk appeared to find form after winning European gold in May. This was then questioned again as Demchuk finished 13th at the World Cup in Warsaw last weekend.

Yijun Chen (CHN) – Men’s sabre category A

The reigning Paralympic champion finished runner-up at the 2015 Worlds and 2016 Asian Championships. His consistency on the podium since London however still keeps him in contention for a bout in the finals in Rio.

Anton Datsko (UKR) – Men’s foil, sabre category B

Having won gold at the European Championships in May and then again at the World Cup in Warsaw – the final event before Rio 2016 – Datsko appears to have gained the upper hand over his rivals at just the right time.

Adrian Castro (POL) – Men’s sabre category B

Poland’s world champion is his main challenger for Datsko, although he has struggled against the Ukrainian as of late. Get ready for a fierce duel when the pair face off in Rio.

Editor’s note: Each sport on the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme will have a dedicated week of featured content published on Every week a new sport will be featured and the series will run until September’s Games, helping the public understand more about the 22 sports being contested in Rio.


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