Wheelchair fencing in 2022: Stunning sabre
With the first full International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS) Wheelchair Fencing calendar in two years set to get underway on 14 April, we take a look at some of the key players in sabre.
Catch these athletes, and many more, in action live between 14-17 April at the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing website.
Drozdz looks to bounce back, Tibilashvili wants to spring forward
Heading into the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics all eyes were on Poland’s world rankings leader King Drozdz in the women’s sabre category A.
Going for her maiden medal on her Paralympic debut, Drozdz had the form book behind her.
Unfortunately it was not meant to be for the 2019 Worlds silver medallist, and another athlete was waiting for their moment in spotlight.
Georgia’s Nino Tibilashvili stormed into the final, just losing out on gold to China’s Jing Bian, but secured her country’s first Paralympic wheelchair fencing medal.
Watch out for these athletes and more as they begin their 2022 campaigns – Tibilashvili and Drozdz for their first European medals and Bian her first Asian Championships podium.
Tan in line again
China’s Shumei Tan is also a contender in the epee – the 32-year-old enters the new season as the Paralympic champion from that weapon and the sabre category B.
Strong on multiple fronts, it remains to be seen if Tan will continue her form.
Georgia’s Irma Khetsuriani is the world No.2 but finished an agonising fourth in Japan.
Chinese men set to excel in sabre?
As well as Tan, included in China’s medal table-topping performance in wheelchair fencing was double gold in the men’s sabre category A and B.
Li Hao triumphed in the category A after two years without competing and on his Paralympic debut.
Yanke Feng – more experienced and fencing at his second Games – claimed his third title along with gold from the foil in the category B.
Hao does however sit behind the likes of Hungary’s world No.1 Richard Osvath and Italy’s Edoardo Giordan in the rankings.
Feng is in a similar position; Poland’s European champion Adrian Castro is the world’s current top sabreist.
Georgia are the reigning women’s sabre team world champions having grabbed their first gold at that level in 2021. Before that they claimed silver in 2019, just losing out to China.
Khetsuriani and Tibilashvili teamed-up with Gvantsa Zadishvili last year and this season the trio will go for the European title.
The 2022 calendar will open in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from 14-17 April with a World Cup. After a series of World Cups, the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing Asian Championships will see the first regional titles awarded in Hangzhou, China, from 10-15 October. The Americas Champs follow from 20-23 October and the Euros take place from 29 November – 4 December.