Datsko aiming for continued dominance in Warsaw
Anton Datsko of Ukraine is hoping to continue his dominance in the category B foil and epee disciplines at this week's IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Warsaw (4-7 July).
Having taken the silver medal in the foil competition at London 2012, Datsko has been in stunning form with both the foil and the sabre ever since, winning five medals in his past six competitions and reaching the podium every single time.
The loss in the London 2012 final to Hu Daoliang of China might have dented the confidence of some competitors but not Datsko. He has taken the positives from that day and channelled the pain of defeat into motivation that has seen him become almost unstoppable in recent months.
"There are a lot of components of success – self-sacrifice, good support, and strong motivation" says Datsko when asked about his recent run of victories.
" After winning the European Championships and the World Championships in 2011, the only goal that remained for me was the Paralympic Games.
"The biggest motivation for further training was my performance in London. There is nothing more encouraging than the desire to push through. I will do my best to be more prepared at the next Games."
During the intensive training programme that has helped deliver his recent successes Datsko has been supported by a close team:
"In fencing the most inspiring for me are the people who are training with me – my coach and teammates." said Datsko. "The important thing is that during my training I get a great satisfaction from fencing."
In his favoured foil event Datsko has won his past three major competitions, taking home the gold medal from the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing Grand Prix events in Eger, Hungary, at the end of last year and from the equivalent events in Montreal, Canada, and Lonato, Italy, this spring. This astounding feat would have been matched in the sabre discipline too, but for a third place finish in Montreal.
Despite these consecutive wins Datsko says he won’t be taking anything for granted in Warsaw, recognising that a strong field stands in his way of more titles. In the foil event he highlights Hu Daoliang, his conquerer in London, as the one to beat, with Grzegorz Pluta of Poland and Alessio Sarri of Italy identified as the main rivals in the sabre competition.
Datsko’s competitors will be aware they need to be on top form to beat him, but the Ukrainian isn’t letting that concern him ahead of the World Cup either:
"Sport is sport. It often cannot be predicted. But taking into account my recent successes, I hope to win the foil and hopefully the sabre. I am not worrying.
"Of course when rivals are competing with the leader their level should increase gradually, but I hope to stay at a high level as long as possible and to grow with them."
Even if more victories are added to Datsko’s incredible recent record he won’t be arranging any big celebrations.
"I do not have great celebrations. Celebrating a victory for me is primarily expressing gratitude to God, my parents, coaches and all those who are rooting for me, as without them I would not have reached the victories."
There is another on-form favourite to look out for in Warsaw in the women’s category B foil event, with Bebe Vio of Italy looking to add the World Cup crown to her impressive run of accolades which includes wins at the wheelchair fencing Grand Prix events in Montreal and Lonato as well as the International Paralympic Committee’s Athlete of the Month Award for May.