Asia’s wheelchair fencers set to shine at year’s last World Cup

03/12/2023

Asia’s top wheelchair fencers will be out in force at the final World Cup of 2023 in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, from 5 December, ready to showcase the best of the sport alongside a series of other big-name stars.

The World Cup is being held as part of the 2023 World Abilitysport Games and offers crucial qualification points for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. It is the sixth World Cup of the year and also follows the Asian Para Games which took place in Hangzhou, China, and the World Championships in Terni, Italy.

Competition from Nakhon Ratchasima will be shown live at the wheelchair fencing website between 5-8 December.

One of wheelchair fencing’s most successful athletes – Saysunee Jana – will be competing on her home pistes.

Jana has won at least one medal at every single Paralympic Games since Athens 2004 and in 2023 has claimed both the world and Asian titles in the women’s epee category B. At the World Cup level, Jana is unbeaten since 2020.

The Thai fencer is also in great form in the foil with World and Asian Championships bronze medals on her list of latest achievements.

Credit: Camille Simmons

In the epee her challengers may include Italy’s Rossana Pasquino and Japan’s Anri Sakurai.

Sakurai may also challenge her in the foil as well as China’s Xiao Rong. Rong is the new world and Asian champion.

Rounding off Jana’s chances is the sabre, a weapon in which she also secured a top three finish in Hangzhou.

In the women’s epee category A China’s Xufeng Zou returns as the world title holder and world No.2. Zou will be joined in Nakhon Ratchasima by top ranked fencer Marta Fidrych of Poland and South Korea’s Hyo Kyeong Kwon. Alongside Fidrych, 22-year-old Kwon has enjoyed an exceptional couple of seasons, claiming multiple World Cup podium places and the under 23 world title.

China also have a strong showing in the women’s foil category A where Paralympic, world and Asian Champion Haiyan Gu will feature once again. Gu has finished on top in every single competition she has entered in 2023.

In the men’s foil B, fans can expect to see the latest showdown between two of China’s – and the world’s – best fencers.

Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Paralympic champion Daoliang Hu saw his dominance in the weapon removed by teammate Yanke Feng at both Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

This continued at October’s World Championships. However when the pair last faced-off it was Hu who emerged the victor, claiming the Asian title later that month.

Great Britain’s Dimitri Coutya and France’s Maxime Valet could also be in the mix. Coutya is the world No.1 whilst Valet has landed on the World Cup podium twice this year.

Feng is also the world and Asian champion in the sabre.

In the team events, Iraq will be hoping to repeat their upset from the Worlds where they beat China in the men’s epee to take gold.

The 2023 Wheelchair Fencing World Cup will feature the men’s and women’s epee, foil and sabre category A and B and team events in the men’s epee and women’s foil and the mixed team sabre.

All events offer world ranking points which go towards qualification for Paris 2024, except the mixed team sabre which is being trialled as a new format.

The men’s foil and women’s sabre will open competition on Tuesday (5 December).

Nakhon Ratchasima is the last World Cup of 2023 but athletes will only get a short break before resuming their qualification campaigns. A World Cup in Cardiff, Great Britain, will take place from 11-14 January ahead of regional Championships in Europe, Asia and the Americas. The full calendar can be viewed here