Bebe’s beautiful victory at wheelchair fencing World Cup
Italy’s world and Paralympic champion Bebe Vio achieved the dream comeback after two years out at the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) Wheelchair Fencing World Cup on Friday (17 March), winning gold at home in Pisa, Italy.
In the build-up to the competition Vio, who has not competed since winning her second consecutive Paralympic title due to studying and injury, spoke of her nerves for her return.
But the 26-year-old had nothing to worry about as she breezed through the rounds before landing in the final against China’s Xiao Rong.
With the audience – many of them children – packed into the venue, Vio saw off the challenge from Rong as she did for gold at the last World Championships in 2019.
As Vio scored the winning point the crowd leapt to their feet and erupted into cheers and applause. It then took some minutes for the clamber to congratulate her to end and move on with the next final.
Thailand’s Saysunee Jana fell to Vio in the semi-final and took bronze alongside Hong Kong’s Yuen Ping Chung.
The Italians had also hoped for double gold on Saturday with Matteo Dei Rossi and Edoardo Giordan making it through to the semi-finals in the men’s sabre category A.
It was not be however as European bronze medallist Giordan lost out to Hungary’s Richard Osvath. Dei Rossi fell to Paralympic bronze medallist and world champion Jianquan Tian of China.
That left Tian and Osvath to battle it out in a close final. Tian emerged the victor by just one point and celebrated with a cry of delight before leaving back in his fencing chair throwing his legs in the air.
Giordan and Dei Rossi stood next to each on the third step of the podium.
Poland’s Michal Dabrowski overcame two fencers who finished ahead of him at the recent European Championships on his way to gold in the men’s sabre category B.
First up was teammate, European champion and top seed Adrian Castro in the semi-final. Dabrowksi – who grabbed bronze at last year’s Euros – cast his compatriot aside and went on to face Hungarian European silver medallist Istvan Tarjanyi in the final.
The Polish athlete, feeding off of his winning momentum and with his first World Cup sabre gold since 2021 in sight, cleared Tarjanyi by five points to take victory.
Castro still made it onto the podium with bronze alongside France’s Maxime Valet.
Chinese Paralympic champion Haiyan Gu made the best of her return to the piste for the first time since Tokyo 2020 in the women’s foil category A.
In a rematch of the final at the last Paralympics, Gu faced Ukraine’s Nataliia Morkvych for gold and eased past her 15-7.
Gu’s teammate Yuandong Chen added to her gold from the epee from Thursday (16 March) with bronze.
Reigning Asian champion and London 2012 Paralympic gold medallist Yu Chui Yee collected her latest medal, also in third.
The 2023 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Cup runs until 19 March. Saturday (18 March) will feature the men’s epee and women’s sabre category A and B.
Pisa 2023 is the second of five World Cups set to take place this year. Nimes, France, will host the competition from 20-23 April, followed by Warsaw, Poland, in July and Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, in December.
As well as the Worlds, the Asian Championships also head to Hangzhou, China, as part of the Asian Para Games from 23-28 October.