Paralympics were ‘best lesson’ for wheelchair fencer Drozdz
Poland’s sabre World No.1 Kinga Drozdz has spoken of the lessons she learned from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games as she prepares to compete at her home International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Warsaw from 7 July.
Drozdz entered the Paralympics as one of the favourites to claim a medal in the women’s sabre category A. The 27-year-old had won silver at the World Championships and secured multiple golds at World Cups in the build-up.
But a dream debut was not to be for Drozdz who lost out on a shot on the podium after a slim 15-14 loss to Hungary’s Eva Andreja Hajmasi in the quarter-finals, ending seventh overall.
Drozdz put the disappointment down to a change in coaching staff, but vowed to continue.
“Life creates various scenarios,” she said. “I didn’t win a medal even though at the time of Paralympics I was in very good physical disposition. This effect was in likelihood caused by a combination of such factors as the end of cooperation with one of coaches. Personally, I am very impatient so in retrospect, not winning the medal was the best lesson for me.”
Drozdz’s attentions turned quickly to the future after Tokyo 2020. Not one to dwell on the past, the Polish fencer ended the 2021 season atop the podium at the World Cup in Pisa, Italy. Into 2022 she claimed silver in Chon Buri, Thailand, and is looking ahead with optimism.
The year not only holds a home World Cup but a European Championships in Warsaw too. Here Drozdz will go for her first regional podium.
“Nothing is certain in sport (especially in fencing). The result is on the side of disposition of the day, and happiness, but I will definitely do my best. As I mentioned before, I am an impatient person, but I work on me so hard every day. In addition to this I am a perfectionist. Everything I do must be perfect and satisfying so among others my attention is focused on my style of fencing. I really like when it comes so beautiful.”
Drozdz is well supported by a team of coaches who, alongside her father, live each triumph and setback with her.
“Every professional athlete practises to achieve his goals and win medals and prizes. I am very happy with my successes from Pisa and Chon Buri because they are kind of proof that I am still in the game but the most important thing for me is making my dad proud and happy. He enjoys my wins and re-lives my losses many times more than me. The most satisfying thing to me is my coach Marek Gniewkowski honest reactions, who daily is a master in ‘poker face’, and after a win, the joy can be seen on his face.”
Drozdz only made her international debut in 2018 after starting to fence in primary school. For many fencers it can take years to develop their style and technique, but Drozdz soon became a contender in the sabre.
Moving forward and with the benefit of her first Paralympics now under her belt, she is aiming for Paris 2024. Her determination to be the best has not gone unnoticed by those closest to her.
“It is very hard for me to say something about myself, but I have asked my partner for help, and he said: ‘You are completely stubborn, ambitious and hardworking. When you take something into your head nothing will stop you. You said you work on your stubbornness but you’re not fooling anyone.’
The Warsaw 2022 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Cup runs from 7-10 July.
The 2022 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing European Championships take place in Warsaw from 29 November – 4 December.