Wheelchair Fencing World Championships to kick off in Budapest
More than 160 athletes from 27 countries will take to the piste in foil, sabre and epee events starting on Wednesday (7 August).
World’s top wheelchair fencers gather in Budapest, Hungary for the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Cup.
More than 160 wheelchair fencers from 27 countries are gathering in Budapest, Hungary for the much anticipated IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Championships, which begin on Wednesday (7 August) and run through the weekend.
Held at the Syma Event and Congress Centre at the same time as the World Fencing Championships, the event is the biggest on the 2013 fencing calendar. Individual and team competitions will be held for both male and female competitors across all three weapon categories – epee, foil and sabre.
Given the scale of the event, and coming almost exactly a year after the London 2012 Paralympic Games, emotions among the athletes are already running high.
“A year later and the image, the atmosphere and the euphoria of the London Games are still very present” said French category A foil competitor Delphine Bernard. “We had to get back into competition quickly to qualify for the World Championships in Budapest. I am both ready and anxious.”
For many, the World Championships is the focus of their efforts for 2013, meaning preparation has been intensive and they can afford to go all out when they compete in Budapest.
This is certainly the case according to Marta Makowska of Poland who took bronze in the women’s category B foil event at London 2012.
“I’m completing the last training sessions and checking equipment. The World Championship is a great sport festival and every fencer is waiting for it,” she said.
These thoughts are echoed by sabre specialist Albina Kuramshina of Russia: “This event is very stirring, but at the same time very happy and exciting,” she said. “I feel that physically I am ready for the forthcoming fights and I am in appropriate fighting mood. I look forward to participating because I have focused every effort on this.”
Anticipation is particularly great for those competing at a World Championship event for the first time, such as Great Britain’s Piers Gilliver.
Having only been competing internationally for a year, Gilliver says appearing on the piste in Hungary will feel like “a huge step forward” but one he “can’t wait to make.”
He described Budapest as the perfect setting for his debut at this high level.
“I have found it to be a beautiful and historic city with a great fencing heritage,” he said.
However, others such as Marat Yusupov of Russia are no stranger to the pressures of competing on such occasions.
Yusupov plans to compete with the foil and the sabre in a bid to win that elusive first world championship title, though he is under no illusion that it will be easy.
“This will be my fourth Championships,” he said. “Previously I came second, third but I never won. Now I want to win at this Championship” he said.
One athlete with many title wins at all levels to her name is Hong Kong’s Yu Chui Yee. As the winner of both the category A foil and epee events at London 2012 and, more recently, at last month’s Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Warsaw, Poland, Yee looks set to again be a main contender in Hungary.
“The World Championships is one of the biggest competitions in wheelchair fencing. I am so happy that I can represent Hong Kong,” she said.
“I trained so hard and have had good preparation for this competition. After winning at the London Paralympic Games last year, I am more experienced and confident in my skill and techniques, I will try my best when I compete in Budapest, and hope that I can win medals.”
However, Yee also points out that the strong Hungarian team, including her main rival Zsuzanna Krajnyak is likely to perform well with the backing of home support.
“I think the Hungarian team is strong, especially in women’s epee. They are going to have a home advantage for this World Championship; also the Chinese team will be major competitors.”
Other names to watch at the Championships include: Italy’s up-and-coming Beatrice Vio, Ukrainan prodigy Anton Datsko, French go-getter Romain Noble and Chinese hopeful Yijun Chen.
To view live streaming of fights, results and following day poules – please visit the IWAS website.
Schedule of events at the World Championships
7 August: (Individual) men’s sabre A, B; women’s foil A, B
8 August: (Individual) men’s Epee A, B; women’s epee A, B
9 August: (Individual) men’s foil A, B, C; men’s epee C; women’s sabre A, B, C
10 August: (Team) men’s sabre; women’s foil
11 August: (Team) men’s epee; women’s epee
12 August: (Team) men’s foil; women’s sabre