Dei Rossi delivers upset at Sao Paulo World Cup


Italy’s Matteo Dei Rossi put the cat amongst the pigeons at the 2024 Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Saturday (25 May), beating British Paralympic, world and European champion Piers Gilliver in the men’s epee category A.

Gilliver’s unbeaten run – which began in 2019 – was ended by Dei Rossi in a dramatic conclusion to the final at the Brazilian Paralympic Training Centre.

There was little to separate the pair throughout the match but Dei Rossi had gained the smallest of edges as the match reach its climax. With the score at 14-13 to the Italian, he was handed a penalty for lifting. Because that followed on from premature movement for which he had already received a yellow card, Dei Rossi received a red card and a point was given to Gilliver to bring him level.

The Brit failed to capitalise on that lifeline and Dei Rossi landed the winning touch. It was the European bronze medallists first World Cup win in epee.

China’s Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist Jianquan Tian had the misfortune to meet Gilliver in the semi-final and was pushed into third place. Iraq’s Zainulabdeen Al-Madhkhoori also secured bronze.

Gilliver’s teammate Dimitri Coutya managed to deliver Great Britain a gold in the men’s epee category B.

The Paralympic bronze medallist faced China’s Benjun Qin in the final, a fencer that has made a big impact in a short space of time.

Qin is the latest talent to emerge from China, making his international debut in March 2023, before going on to win the world title just seven months later.

That might have explained why Coutya was so pleased with his win on Saturday, coming from behind to get past Qin 15-13.

Iraq’s Ammar Ali and Olegs Garkuls-Gurevics of Latvia were the bronze medallists. Garkuls-Gurevics enjoyed a particularly great day on the piste, improving on his previous best World Cup finish of 11th.

Saysunee Jana read her Chinese opponent Xiao Rong like a book in the final of the women’s foil category B, showing why she is the world’s top ranked fencer in the weapon.

The Thai world and Asian champion kept her head throughout a gruelling tie with Rong, refusing to be tricked into attacking too hard. Her patience paid off as Rong got more and more frustrated as the bout progressed.

As it looked like the tie was going to timeout and Jana would win by default, she launched a late attack with 10 seconds left on the clock and reached the magic 15 regardless.

China’s Lanzhu Ao and Ukraine’s Nadiia Doloh were the bronze medallists.

World and Asian champion Haiyan Gu added another gold to China’s haul in the women’s foil category A.

Gu showed her quality against France’s Brianna Vide who was competing in her first final.

Ukraine’s Paralympic silver medallist Nataliia Morkvych, who Vide beat for a place in the final, and China’s Xufeng Zou collected bronze.

The Sao Paulo 2024 Wheelchair Fencing World Cup concludes on Sunday with the women’s epee team, men’s foil team and the mixed sabre team.