Golden duo strike again at home World Cup
World and Paralympic champion Piers Gilliver and European title holder and Paralympic bronze medallist Dimitri Coutya were the headline acts at their home World Cup on Friday (12 January), striking gold in the men’s epee category A and category B respectively in Cardiff, Great Britain.
All of today’s action can be watched back on demand at World Abilitysport’s YouTube channel.
Gilliver completed a stunning comeback from an injury-plagued 2023 after which he still managed to end the year as world champion and top seed.
Starting the Paralympic year in striking fashion, Gilliver looked back to his tactical best throughout Friday. Not even long-time rival Sun Gang of China – who beat him to gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympics – could stop him in the final. Gilliver stretched away with a 15-12 win, leaving Gang looking frustrated.
“Me and Sun have been rivals for many years,” Gilliver said. “He beat me in Rio and then I beat him in the semi-finals in Tokyo. […] We always seem to find each other in the touch matches!
“It really means so much to compete in the UK. The biggest thing for me is my friends and family have never seen me compete, some have and some haven’t. Here in Cardiff everyone’s been able to come and watch and support. It’s great to show them what I do.”
Italy’s Matteo Dei Rossi and Germany’s Maurice Schmidt were the bronze medallists.
In the epee category B, Coutya completed the golden double act with his first World Cup win in epee in almost exactly a year. He was last victorious in Washington D.C., USA in January 2023.
Coutya got past China’s Benjun Qin in the final. Describing his difficult relationship with the epee after his win, Coutya said:
“It’s pretty overwhelming. We’re leading into the Paralympic year and it’s been a really trying time, even carrying over from the Tokyo cycle. While it’s been a really incredible time of my life so far it’s also been an incredibly emotionally wrecking one as well.
“This one is a weapon I really care about but also struggle with it sometimes. For it to come together today on home soil is really fantastic, and it just felt good for it to be working.”
Poland’s Patryk Banach and Jie Zhang were the bronze medallists. Banach’s finish is his best since 2022.
In the women’s sabre category B, China’s Rong Xiao won her second medal in as many days to follow on from her foil bronze from Thursday (11 January).
Xiao faced Thailand’s Saysunee Jana for gold. This time it was Xiao’s turn to take the glory as Jana had done the previous day.
“I got the medal today, that means I got more points for Paris and it means I moved one step forward to the Paris Paralympic Games. I’m really looking forward to the next competitions,” Rong said.
Georgia’s Irma Khetsuriani and Italy’s Rossana Pasquino completed the podium with bronze.
China collected another gold in the women’s sabre category B courtesy of Asian champion Haiyan Gu.
Gu took on Georgia’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympic silver medallist Nina Tibilashvili in the final, registering a strong 15-3 performance.
Hungary’s European bronze medallist Amarilla Veres grabbed bronze. China doubled-up with Xufeng Zou occupying the podium’s other third spot.
The World Cup continues in Cardiff on Saturday with the women’s epee and men’s foil category A and B.