Great Britain, Georgia, top European team epee, sabre podium
Great Britain and Georgia made history at the 2022 International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) Wheelchair Fencing European Championships in Warsaw, Poland, on Wednesday (30 December), claiming their first regional men’s epee and women’s sabre team titles.
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic bronze medallists Great Britain went up against Ukraine in the final of men’s team epee.
Having won their respective category A and category B individual titles on Tuesday (29 November), Piers Gilliver and Dimitri Coutya joined forces with Oliver Lam-Watson and Josh Waddell on the piste against Ukraine.
The Ukrainian trio of Artem Manko, Oleg Naumenko, Maksym Mahula – the 2018 bronze medallists – prevented Great Britain from running away with the match, keeping them within a few points at all times and holding the lead when they had it.
But six successful hits from Coutya without reply against Naumenko put some clear air between Great Britain and Ukraine. With the score at 35-40, Lam-Watson and Gilliver continued to build on that lead and it was Gilliver who reached the magic 45.
“To be honest it feels amazing,” Lam-Watson said. “In Tokyo we managed to get our bronze so to up that to the European title it feels amazing. I couldn’t be more proud of this team, we’ve absolutely worked really hard for it today.
“We’ve always been a really young team and I think at that last European Championships [in 2018] we were still at our inception. We’ve been working hard over COVID, chasing it really, really hard, grinding every day, every single one of us. It’s not been easy but the hard work looks like it’s paying off a little bit so onwards and upwards.”
When asked about the team’s prospects for Paris 2024, Lam-Watson said:
“We’re a couple of hungry hobbits and we’re coming for gold. This really solidifies that and we’re a team to look out for.”
Defending silver medallists France took their latest men’s epee team medal, this time claiming bronze. Peter Yohan, Gaetan Charlot, Adrian Turkawa and Luca Platania Parisi overcame Poland 45-41.
It was another close match in the women’s team sabre final.
Georgia’s Irma Khetsuriani, Nina Tibilashvili and Gvantsa Zadishvili were closely matched with Ukraine’s Yevheniia Breus, Olena Fedota-Isaieva and Nataliia Morkvych.
Georgia took an early lead but Morkvych hauled them back, with Breus also keeping Georgia in check.
With just one point separating the two teams at 39-40 to Georgia, it was all on Breus and Tibilashvili’s shoulders. It was the Georgian Paralympic silver medallist that just had the edge in the end, landing five hits to Breus’ three, to grab the gold.
“It’s great! I’m feeling really great,” Tibilashvili said.
“I can’t imagine anything better, maybe world champion?” Khetsuriani said, looking to her teammates.
Tibilashvili continued: “Our opponents our very strong and we are happy that the final was very beautiful. We have the foil team too and we hope that it will be magic.”
Ukraine meanwhile will be delighted with another great day at the office, adding two silvers to their tally which also includes a gold and silver from the men’s individual epee and women’s individual sabre.
The Italian team of Julia Anna Markowska, Andrea Mogos, Loredana Trigilia and Rossana Pasquino claimed the team sabre bronze after a dramatic match against Poland’s Patrycja Hareza, Jadwiga Pacek, Kinga Drozdz and Marta Fidrych.
There was little to separate the two teams but Italy just managed to edge towards victory. It took video reviews of the final two points to decide the winner before the Italian team were awarded the win. Trigilia erupted along with the rest of the team watching from the sidelines when the referee handed them the final point.
The 2022 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing European Championships continue on Thursday (1 December) with the men’s foil category A, B and C and the women’s epee category A, B and C.
The competition runs until Sunday (4 December) and features a full complement of individual and team epee, foil and sabre medals. It is also a qualifier for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.