China dominate at World Cup
China claimed a total of nine medals, including three golds, in the men’s foil and women’s sabre at the wheelchair fencing World Cup in Nimes, France, on Friday (21 April).
Fencers from the country blocked out the podium in the men’s foil category A as the cream of their team rose to the top.
Saichun Zhong, the reigning World Championships silver medallist, repeated his victory from Pisa having returned to international competition this year for the first time since 2019.
Zhong is yet to make his Paralympic debut but once again showed he will be one to watch come Paris 2024, beating his Tokyo 2020 gold-medallist teammate Sun Gang in the final.
All the semi-finals were tense affairs. Liqiang Chen and Yang Cheng deserved their places on the podium with bronze.
China also enjoyed the top step in the women’s sabre category A, courtesy of Haiyan Gu.
The World Championships bronze medallist faced Poland’s European champion Kinga Drozdz for gold.
Gu had earlier knocked out Paralympic silver medallist Nina Tibilashvili for a place in the final, showing her growing confidence in the weapon.
In the gold medal match Gu dominated proceedings, beating Drozdz 15-9.
Hosts France got their hands on bronze thanks to a solid performance from Brianna Vide for her first medal of the season. Hungary’s Eva Andreja Hajmasi was the other bronze medallist.
Paralympic champion Yanke Feng rounded off the Chinese charge with the win in the men’s foil category B.
Feng faced a familiar opponent in Great Britain’s Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist Dimitri Coutya.
Coutya took an early lead but Feng came back. The final two points went to video review but the referees made no changes to their decisions and Feng was awarded victory.
Iraq’s Ammar Ali, the Rio 2016 silver medallist, took bronze on his season debut in the foil. Fan Lin Zhu completed the impressive Chinese line-up of medallists for the day, also taking third.
Georgia’s former world champion Irma Khetsuriani was the victor in the women’s sabre category B – the only non-Chinese athlete to top the podium on day two.
The Georgian faced Thailand’s Saysunee Jana for gold, in a repeat of the final from the 2017 Worlds when Khetsuriani claimed her world title.
Khetsuriani was able to continue her good form from 2023 with her second World Cup win having reached the top in Washington D.C., USA, in January.
Jana’s silver is her second medal of the event, adding to her gold from Thursday in the epee.
China’s Ao Lanzhu also secured her second podium finish of Nimes 2023 with bronze. Her teammate Xiao Rong joined her to complete the top three.
The Nimes 2023 wheelchair fencing World Cup continues on Saturday with the conclusion of the individual competition. The men’s epee and women’s foil category A and B are set to feature.