Demchuk, Jana, show great form at Cardiff World Cup

11/01/2024

Ukraine’s Andrii Demchuk and Thailand’s Saysunee Jana headlined the action on the opening day of the World Cup in Cardiff, Great Britain, on Thursday (11 January), upsetting the form books in the men’s sabre category A and women’s foil category B, respectively.

All of today’s action can be watched on-demand at the World Abilitysport YouTube channel.

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Jana put on a dominant display, claiming her first gold almost to the day that she won her last in the weapon.

Saysunee Jana of Thailand pumps her fist whilst looking directly into the camera
Credit: British Fencing

Normally excelling in epee, Jana topped the foil podium at the World Cup in Washington D.C., USA, in January 2023.

Dispatching China’s World Championships silver medallist Xiao Rong in the semi-final, Jana then took on South Korea’s Eun Hye Cho for gold. The Korean is herself experiencing a great run of form in the epee, but this was her first shot on gold in foil.

Jana showed her experience of finals, winning 15-5, but Cho will be encouraged by her silver.

Rong and Hong Kong’s Nga Ting Tong occupied third spot on the podium.

Ukrainian wheelchair fencer Andrii Demchuk pumps his fist in celebratin
Credit: British Fencing

Demchuk followed in Jana’s wake, showing strong glimpses of the form he had reached in 2016 when he claimed the sabre Paralympic title in Rio de Janeiro.

Indeed Demchuk beat Tokyo 2020 and World Championships bronze medallist Jianquan Tian for the win, the man who had knocked him out of medal contention at the last Paralympics.

Demchuk said: This is one of the last three tournaments before the Paralympics and a first win of the year. I can see my work is very good and I am happy with this result and my friend Artem [Manko] to win the bronze. For Ukraine it is perfect.

It’s [Tian] my old opponent. I won in Rio in semi-final with Tian and I won the gold medal but in Tokyo I lost in bronze match, 15-14.”

Great Britain’s Piers Gilliver got the hosts on the board with their first medal, taking bronze. Another Ukrainian, Artem Manko, landed the other bronze.

China’s Paralympic and world champion Haiyan Gu went the distance once again in the women’s foil category A.

Having dispatched one of her closest rivals and teammate Xufeng Zou in the semi-final, Gu faced a potential new foe and compatriot: Yuandong Chen.

Chen has been making her presence known since making her World Cup debut last season. The 29-year-old grabbed bronze at the World Championships in Terni, Italy and multiple World Cups in 2023.

Chen could not quite get there on Thursday as Gu maintained her dominance, but the rivalry is growing just in time for the Asian Championships in April and August’s Paralympic Games.

“I’m very glad to get the gold medal. Every competition is a milestone of my lifetime,” Gu said. “I want to express my congratulations to my teammate. Although we know each other very well, the competition is a good chance for us to grow our technique and when we go back home, we will be friends of course.”

Zou left with bronze alongside Hungary’s European champion Eva Andreja Hajmasi who made it onto her latest podium.

China collected their second gold of the day in the men’s sabre category B.

Asian Championships silver medallist Jie Zhang won the gold with a 15-9 win over Italy’s Gianmarco Paolucci, his first World Cup medal of any colour.

“I think I won the gold medal because I am quite relaxed during the competition. Zhang said. “I didn’t imagine the prospect of a huge advantage like that. This World Cup is a very important stop towards the Paris Paralympics so the only thing I want to do is work harder and try to win the path to Paris.”

Despite the gap between himself and Zhang, Paolucci will also be pleased with his day’s work, making it to the final and securing silver for one of his best ever finishes.

Istvan Tarjanyi doubled-up on podium finishes for Hungary with bronze. And Yanke Feng left with another medal for China, taking the second bronze.

The World Cup continues in Cardiff on Friday with the women’s sabre and men’s epee category A and B.