China take double team gold in Hangzhou
Hosts China continued their hugely successful 2023 Asian Para Games wheelchair fencing campaign with gold in the men’s team foil and women’s team epee in Hangzhou, China, on Thursday (26 October).
Gang Sun, Yanke Feng and Yang Chen proved too hot to handle in the men’s foil, overcoming Iraq who had beaten them in the epee team at the recent World Championships in Terni, Italy.
With the Chinese team containing multiple Paralympic, world and Asian Para Games medallists – Sun, Feng and Chen all left with podium places from Wednesday’s individual foil – they were riding high.
Iraq’s Hayder Al-Ogaili, Zainulabdeen Al-Madhkhoori and Ali Mnahi put up a good fight but Paralympic and world champions China were still able to stretch their lead and reclaim their title from 2018.
Iraq left with silver as they had done five years ago.
Japan faced Thailand in the bronze medal match. Naoki Yasu, Shintaro Kano and Akira Tsunoda emerged the victors from a close match, with the lead swapping multiple times.
Yasu’s penultimate round performance against Yuenyong Khanthithao proved to be the difference with the Japanese fencer taking the lead and then extending it to five, before handing over Kano to finish the job.
In the women’s epee team, China fielded a similarly decorated squad including individual category A gold medallist Yuandong Chen. Haiyan Gu and Su Kang, also podium finishers from the previous day, joined Chen to claim the gold against Thailand.
Gu, who is just starting to find her feet in the epee, said: “Thanks to my teammates and my coach. They had faith in me and let me, who was not familiar with the epee, participate in the team event so that I could learn from it and gain experience. It was a great opportunity. I’m grateful to them.”
Thailand placed multiple Paralympic medallist and Asian champion from the category B, Saysunee Jana, at the centre of their efforts. However Jana and Duean Nakrapasit and Aphinya Thongdaeng struggled to keep up with a Chinese surge, who were buoyed by their home crowds.
Cholthacha Bussayawiphathorn was substituted in and won her match against Kang, but it was not enough. However with their silver, Thailand did improve on their bronze medal from 2018.
South Korea pushed silver medallists from the last edition – Hong Kong – out of the medals in the battle for bronze.
Eunhye Cho, Hyokyeong Kwon and Gyeonghye Baek steadily built their lead over Yu Chui Yee, Nga Ting Tong and Pui Fan Shan. It was enough to resist a late attack from Hong Kong and the match finished 45-37.
Wheelchair fencing at the Asian Para Games continues until Saturday (28 October) and features individual competition in the men’s and women’s foil, epee and sabre category A and B and team events in all three weapons.
The competition acts as the 2023 Asian Championships and offers crucial qualification points for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.
On Friday (27 October), individual events return with titles up for grabs in the men’s epee and women’s sabre.