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Paralympic Sports: Wheelchair Fencing

Top wheelchair fencers return to action in Italy

The World Cup in Lonato, Italy, will see Italian favourites Bebe Vio and Alessio Sarri appear on the piste for the first time this year. 21 May 2014
Imagen
A wheelchair fencer celebrates after a victory.

Italy's Alessio Sarri celebrates after winning the bronze in the men's individiual sabre category B event at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

ⒸGetty Images
By Mike Stuart | For the IPC

Having not been able to train fully until recently, Sarri said his main goal is the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing European Championships taking place in Strasbourg, France, in June, an objective that is shared by Vio.

The Italian squad will be boosted by the return of two world-class performers at the Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Lonato, Italy, this weekend (23-25 May).

The home team will send both London 2012 bronze medallist Alessio Sarri and young star Beatrice "Bebe" Vio into major competition for the first time in 2014.

Sarri has not competed following shoulder surgery after the World Championships in Budapest in September. Sarri took gold in the category B sabre discipline at that event and is looking to continue where he left off.

"I’m very happy to be back at an international competition," Sarri explained. "I’ve been training hard to be competitive."

Having not been able to train fully until recently, Sarri said his main goal is the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing European Championships taking place in Strasbourg, France, in June, an objective that is shared by Vio.

Vio is also looking to find winning form again at the World Cup having focused more on schoolwork than competing during the past few months. Vio's last title in the category B foil competition in Lonato a year ago, an achievement she would love to repeat.

Italian teammate Marco Cima is also looking for success with the foil this weekend. Cima won the category B event in the discipline at the last World Cup event in Malchow, Germany, in January and is hoping to challenge again in Lonato.

"Each World Cup has its importance and tests the current condition of the athlete" according to Cima, who added that victory depends on who is best able to "put in place what the coach has taught."

When asked how they would celebrate a victory at the World Cup, both Sarri and Cima said they would like to have a drink with their teammates. There are, however, several in-form athletes looking to crash the Italians' party.

Poland's Dariusz Pender is favourite in the men's category A epee competition having just returned to the top of the rankings after a run of great results.

Another to keep an eye on is Germany's Simone Briese-Baetke, who travels to the World Cup in fantastic form. Currently World No.1 in both the women's category B epee and foil disciplines, Briese-Baetke took both titles at the Grand Prix event in Montreal last month.

With the sport’s big names looking at their best it will take more than the home crowd for the stars of the Italian squad to triumph. They will have to find their very best form quickly if they are to be toasting a victory come Sunday evening.