Gilliver returns to winning form in Warsaw
Great Britain’s Paralympic, world and European champion Piers Gilliver reached an emotional victory in the men’s epee category A at the 2023 Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday (6 July).
Having been out since April and missing two World Cups after sustaining a serious concussion at the World Cup in Pisa, Italy, Gilliver returned for Warsaw.
In the final he faced China’s World Championships bronze medallist Saichun Zhong, breezing past him 15-5 with few signs of trouble.
“I got a bad brain injury at the start of the year. It effected my life a lot, I couldn’t train I couldn’t do anything really so it’s been a difficult few months. So to come back and win it means so much,” Gilliver said.
When asked about October’s World Championships and where he is with the preparations, Gilliver commented:
“My focus has been on recovering but now it’s looking possible for World Champs and obviously Paris [Paralympics] is the big one so anything I can do qualify is good.”
Iraq’s Haider Al-Ogaili claimed bronze, his best ever finish at a World Cup. China’s Liqiang Chen joined teammate Zhong on the podium in third.
Italy’s Rossana Pasquino reached her target in the women’s sabre category B, beating long-time rival and 2017 world champion Irma Khetsuriani of Georgia for gold.
“It’s my first-time beating Irma. I have this wish to meet her. I don’t meet her often. The last time was in Tokyo and I lost 15-14 so I really wanted to win, Pasquino said of her second World Cup sabre gold of the season. “It is a sort of revenge. She is my friend, but on the frame, yes.”
“I am ready that’s for sure,” Pasquino said about the upcoming year which will feature her home Worlds and her second Paralympics. “I think that 70 per cent of today is my mind rather than my defence and my attack. I really wanted to be the winner of today.”
China’s Xiao Rong and Thailand’s Saysunee Jana completed the podium with a bronze each.
It was an all-Ukrainian final in the men’s epee category C as world and European champion Serhii Shavkun took on teammate Serhii Sheptitskyi.
In a surprise result, Sheptitskyi got past his more experienced teammate to place his hands on gold.
“I don’t know how it happened. Still I am not realising. It worked and it paid off,” Sheptitskyi said.
Italy’s European bronze medallist Leonardo Rigo and South Korea’s Dong Hun Kim shared third place.
Chinese fencers once again showed their strength, ending day one with two victories.
Haiyan Gu picked-up their first gold of the day in the women’s sabre category A.
Ukraine’s Yevheniia Breus lost out to Gu in the final. The Chinese fencer was determined to repeat her performance from the last World Cup in Nimes.
Poland’s Kinga Drozdz, the European champion, had to settle for bronze at home. Great Britain’s Gemma Collis joined her on the podium.
Jie Zhang then doubled-up China’s haul in the men’s epee category B.
He faced Thailand’s Visit Kingmanaw, who was himself was on a high after knocking-out Great Britain’s World champion and Paralympic bronze medallist Dimitri Coutya in the semi-finals.
“It is more important to compare to myself than compare to others. I need to defeat myself yesterday,” Zhang said.
Coutya left with bronze but looked disappointed to have let his guard down against Kingmanaw. Ukraine’s Anton Datsko claimed the second bronze.
The World Cup continues in Warsaw on Friday with the men’s sabre and women’s foil category A and B.
The competition runs until Sunday (9 July) and features clashes in epee, sabre and foil across men’s and women’s individual and team events.