Breus, Pasquino, win first European titles


Ukraine’s Yevheniia Breus and Italy’s Rossana Pasquino claimed their first European titles at the 2024 Wheelchair Fencing European Championships in Paris, France, on Tuesday (5 March).

Breus was visibly emotional as she won gold in the women’s epee category A against Great Britain’s Gemma Collis.

The Ukrainian had emerged from a tough semi-final against Hungary’s defending champion Amarilla Veres, edging her opponent by just one point.

In the final against Collis – an athlete also competing in her first European final – Breus again faced an uphill struggle. There was little to separate the pair throughout. As Breus successfully landed the final touch, a wave of emotion overtook her.

Credit: Didier Echelard

Poland’s Marta Fidrych and Spain’s Judith Rodriguez were the bronze medallists.

Italy’s Rossana Pasquino was delighted with her first European title in the women’s epee category B.

The Italian improved on her silver from Warsaw, Poland, in 2022, overcoming Turkey’s Elke Lale Van Achterberg to add to her World Championships bronze from 2023.

“It’s really nice because I really wanted it. Paris [the Paralympics] is another thing. Today was a fight more with my brain than my body. But if I feel like this in Paris [at the Paralympics] then I think I can do good things.

Achterberg was celebrating their own first top three finish in a major Championships, leaving with silver.

And Poland’s Karolina Strawinska also burst on the podium for her maiden medal, claiming the bronze. Anastasiya Kastsiuchkova (NPA) secured the second bronze.

Great Britain’s Piers Gilliver retained his European title in the men’s sabre category A. The 29-year-old sailed through the last 16 to reach the final where Ukraine’s Andrii Demchuk gave him a run for his money.

Demchuk was looking to reclaim his regional gold from 2018, but Gilliver – the epee Paralympic and world champion – has become a force to be reckoned with in the sabre too.

The final score was 15-10 with Gilliver letting out his characteristic celebratory cry.

Two Italians shared the third step on the podium. Matteo Dei Rossi grabbed his first medal in the weapon at this level while Edoardo Giordan repeated his performance from Warsaw, Poland, in 2022.

Poland’s Adrian Castro was the second athlete to keep their hands on European gold in the men’s sabre category B.

Castro’s win against Great Britain’s Dimitri Coutya was his third in a row, placing him in a great position for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

Coutya’s silver was the first time had made it onto the podium in this weapon, and could be a taste of things to come for the fencer who already has quite the collection of medals in the foil and epee.

Maxime Valet got hosts France off to a great start with bronze, his third in a row.

Ukraine’s Anton Datsko – the 2016 champion – joined Valet in third.

The 2024 Wheelchair Fencing European Championships run until 10 March with a full compliment of men’s and women’s individual and team events in epee, sabre and foil categories A, B and C. Wednesday (6 March) will feature the women’s epee and men’s sabre team events, with competition starting at 13:00 CET.

All the action can be watched live or on demand at wheelchair fencing’s website. Pictures are available to download for editorial use here.