Welcome to 2019: Wheelchair fencing

World Championship year a major step to Tokyo 2020 12 Jan 2019
A man in a wheelchair wearing a fencing uniform
Ammar Ali was hoping to take gold in the men's epee B after silver at October's Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games
ⒸAsian Paralympic Committee

World titles are on the line this year for wheelchair fencers, as are all-important points toward the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

The road to the Games picks up from 10-16 February with the World Cup in Sharjah, UAE, where Paralympic ranking points will be attainable. The World Cup will make three more stops – 21-24 March in Pisa, Italy; 20-26 May in Sao Paolo, Brazil; and 10-15 July in Warsaw, Poland – before the World Championships in Cheongju, South Korea.

Wheelchair fencers have the dates 24-30 September circled on their calendars for the Worlds. Carrying the title of world champion, plus quality ranking points, would set athletes up nicely for the next Paralympics in Japan.

The year rounds off with the World Cup from 14-17 November in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The road to Tokyo officially started last November at Tbilisi, Georgia, where the World Cup opened the first qualification opportunities toward the 2020 Games. Chinese teenager Haiyan Gu made a name for herself in the women’s foil category A after beating Hungary’s world champion Zsuzsanna Krajnyak. The 19-year-old grabbed her first World Cup win in the foil. Meanwhile Italy’s Beatrice Vio won the women’s foil category B to confirm that she remains a heavy Paralympic champion favourite.

In Tbilisi, the men’s epee category B saw a thrilling battle between Iraq’s Ammar Ali and Great Britain’s Dimitri Coutya, with the Iraqi athlete taking the top prize. Expect more to come between the two in 2019.

Hungarian veteran Richard Osvath’s win in November also set him up for a strong start to 2019 in the men’s foil category A. But another rising Italian star Emanuele Lambertini, who lost to Osvath in Georgia, might have plenty more in store for the year.