Who to watch at the Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Pisa
Here are the athletes to beat when battle commences in Italy this weekend.
Qualifying points for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games are becoming short on supply for wheelchair fencers. So far, here are three to watch at the upcoming International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWASF) Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Pisa, Italy (22-24 May), which is one of two events in the circuit before the World Championships in September.
Beatrice Vio, Italy
Anyone who has followed Beatrice Vio’s rapid rise to the top will not have been surprised to see her take gold in her previous three major events – last year’s World Cup in Eger, Hungary and Grand Prix in Hong Kong, China; and April’s World Cup in Montreal Canada. But although ranked No.1 in the world in the category B epee discipline, Vio said she was not expecting such success.
"It is strange that I had the chance to win the last few events, as there were a lot of fantastic athletes," Vio said.
The 18-year-old is now looking forward to competing in her native Italy, where she hopes to top the podium, again.
"I am very happy to be competing in Pisa for the first time, I have a lot of friends here," said Vio, who is confident her teammates will also shine at the tournament.
"We are ready and willing to compete here, and the wonderful thing is that there will be the opportunity for many young Italian athletes to show their skills."
But will the home crowd be enough to propel her to another gold medal?
Roman Fedyaev, Russia
Crowned the European Champion of the category A epee discipline last June, Fedyaev then failed to make the podium in his subsequent three events.
However, he has shown signs of being back in his best. The Russian took gold at the World Cup in Montreal, where he fenced well in the foil, en route to bronze. Might that signal the start of a return to form?
Currently ranked No. 6 in the foil and No. 3 in the epee, Fedyaev is aiming for two titles in Pisa, and the odds of him reaching the podium are in his favour.
Yu Chui Yee, Hong Kong
Yee is in need of a break on the piste, and Pisa might just be her moment.
The seven-time Paralympic champion has gone eight months without winning an individual title. It is worth noting, however, that she has come extremely close on several occasions, such as three weeks ago at the World Cup in Montreal.
There, Yee looked comfortable, as she cruised through the opening rounds of the category A foil event. The Hong Kong, China, native carried that performance into the final, but it was not enough to top compatriot Jing Rong in a 15-10 loss.
Yee is ranked No. 2 in the foil and No. 6 in the epee. That overdue gold medal is well within her reach.
For more information on the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Pisa, Italy, visit the event website.