China make golden World Cup return, Great Britain double-up
The opening day of action at the 2023 International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Pisa, Italy, saw China make a golden return and delivered double victory for Great Britain on Thursday (16 March).
China’s Zaichung Zhong made the best of his return to the piste for the first time since 2019, beating Hungary’s Paralympic silver medallist and world No.2 Richard Osvath to gold.
Even after winning World Championships silver four years ago, Zhong did not make his Paralympic debut at Tokyo 2020. That left Osvath to face Zhong’s teammate Gang Sun for the title, with the Chinese fencer claiming victory.
But on Thursday Zhong got the chance to show his quality has not diminished, dispatching Sun in the quarter-finals before going on to beat Osvath in the final by some margin – 15-6.
Osvath settled for silver whilst Italy’s Emanuele Lambertini and France’s Damian Tokatlian took bronze.
Great Britain’s Gemma Collis topped the podium for the first time since 2018 in the women’s epee category A.
Collis’s last gold in the weapon was at the World Cup in Montreal, Canada, before claiming her next best finish of bronze in 2022.
On Thursday the British fencer showed her mettle in the final following a tough quarter and semi-final which were both incredibly close.
Collis faced debutant Yuandong Chen of China for gold and no doubt to her relief, eased past her 15-7 to claim victory.
South Korea’s Hyo Kyeong Kwon and Hungary’s Paralympic champion Amarilla Veres – who Collis overcame in the semi-final – took bronze.
Great Britain collected double gold courtesy of European champion Dimitri Coutya in the men’s foil category B. He was followed onto the podium by China’s Daoliang Hu on his return to the piste and bronze medallists Michele Massa of Italy and Ukraine’s Oleg Naumenko.
The women’s epee category B gold went to Thailand’s Saysunee Jana in her favourite event.
Paralympic bronze medallist Jana added her second World Cup win in the weapon of the season, having also triumphed in Washington D.C., USA, in January.
Italy’s Rossana Pasquino took silver whilst teammate Julia Markowska claimed her first podium finish with bronze. Markowska made her epee debut in 2022, finishing 15th. Aged just 23, the Italian will be hoping the only way is up.
Japan’s Anri Sakurai was the other bronze medallist securing her second top three finish of the year.
The 2023 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Cup runs until 19 March. Friday (17 March) will feature the men’s foil and women’s foil 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.