Double gold for hosts Italy at wheelchair fencing Worlds
Emanuele Lambertini headlined a barn-storming opening day for the hosts at the 2023 Wheelchair Fencing World Championships on Tuesday (3 October), securing his first world title as Italy grabbed two golds in Terni.
Lambertini emerged the victor from a nail-biting match against Saichun Zhong, the Chinese silver medallist from the last edition in 2019.
In the end Lambertini edged to victory by just one point, much to the delight of a full-house of spectators at the newly inaugurated PalaTerni.
“I am not feeling good at all,” Lambertini said with a wry smile after his win. “I am feeling super good! First time for me of this title so I cannot express myself. It’s just an extremely overwhelming mix of emotions for me. This has come after a long way of training, sacrifices, injuries also as well in the last few months. So I think it is well deserved. And it’s a good strong gold for the Paralympic Games in Paris next year. “
Lambertini’s teammate Matteo Betto joined him on the podium, securing bronze for himself. China’s Yang Chen was the other third-place finisher.
Leonardo Rigo delivered another gold for Italy in the men’s foil category C, creating just as much noise as Lambertini as the crowd responded to his roars of delight.
Not only was it Rigo’s maiden World Championships gold, he also beat defending champion Serhii Shavkun of Ukraine to get it.
“It is always hard against him [Shavkun]”, Rigo said. “This today for me is a dream. I want to thank the Italian federation and all of my family.”
Latvia’s Dmitrijs Valainis and another Italian, William Russo, took bronze.
China were the other country to double-up on golds on the opening day.
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic bronze medallist Xiao Rong picked up her first world title in the women’s sabre category B.
Rong got past Paralympic runner-up Olena Fedota Isaieva in the final, easing past her 15-4.
Italy’s Rossana Pasquino repeated her performance from 2019 with bronze, alongside Georgia’s Irma Khetsuriani.
The Georgian was disappointed not to have made it into the final, for a shot on her second career world title, but spoke positively after her match:
“It’s amazing. Anyway it’s a medal. And It’s a World Championships so it’s kind of good, a good result. I’m just sad because I could be world champion today but there were some issues I couldn’t manage. Anyway, it’s not the end of the world! I’m learning from my mistakes. For the next time I will prepare myself.”
In the men’s foil category B, Chinese legend and Paralympic champion Yanke Feng claimed his second consecutive world title.
Facing teammate and long-term rival Daoliang Hu, Feng crafted a five-point margin to win against his compatriot.
Great Britain’s 2019 silver medallist Dimitri Coutya this time settled for bronze, but will no doubt we delighted to have secured his latest medal at this level.
Coutya was the only man on the podium from outside of China, as newcomer Zhu Fan Li sat alongside him.
Poland’s Kinga Drozdz was delighted with her first Worlds gold in the women’s sabre category A.
Drozdz has been strong all season and faced China’s Zufeng Xou in the final – a formidable opponent in her own right as the bronze medallist from the last edition.
The Polish fencer shocked Zou with a clear 15-7 victory.
“I never thought about it before. I wanted to be focused today for my first match and after that. I am very happy, I have a lot of emotion for myself. Maybe tomorrow I can say more but for now I just want to go to my hotel and celebrate with my team.”
Georgia’s Gvantsa Zadishvili delighted in her first individual World Championships medal, taking bronze with China’s Haiyan Gu.
The 2013 Wheelchair Fencing World Championships continue on Wednesday (3 October) with the women’s team sabre and men’s team foil.