Great Britain’s Gilliver wins birthday world title in Cheongju


Gilliver, who turned 25, impressed in his favourite weapon – the men’s epee category A – to take gold ahead of Russia’s Artur Yusopov.

Great Britain’s Piers Gilliver celebrated his birthday in style at the 2019 International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) Wheelchair Fencing World Championships in Cheongju, South Korea, on Tuesday (17 September), winning his first world title.

Gilliver, who turned 25, impressed in his favourite weapon – the men’s epee category A – to take gold ahead of Russia’s Artur Yusopov.

A great day began for the British fencer in the quarter-finals when he overcame another Russian, defending champion Maxim Shaburov.

Two years ago at the last World Championships, Gilliver lost-out on gold to Shaburov. But he would not let history repeat itself and won his match 15-10.

Gilliver then secured his place in the final by dispatching China’s Sai Chun Zhong.

In the gold medal match Gilliver took control early on and carefully built his lead, eventually ending the match with a 15-9 win despite Shaburov attempting a comeback.

“It was the best present I could have hoped for,” Gilliver, who is also a Paralympic silver medallist, said. “It was a really tough final. Yusopov is a great fencer so every point I had to really work so hard for, really push to the max. So pleased to win, it really means the world to me.”

“I managed to find the solution, it was always evolving in the match” Gilliver said of managing to hold off his opponent’s late charge. “At a few key points he understood what I was doing and I had to change tactics to keep one step ahead, but eventually got there.”

Iraq’s Zainulabdeen Al-Madhkhoori claimed bronze alongside Zhong.

Chinese fencers grabbed a trio of golds elsewhere in the competition, including a debut world title for Shumei Tan in the women’s epee B.

Tan, 25, only made her first international appearance in November 2018 at an IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Tbilisi, Georgia.

On Tuesday she topped the podium following a close fight with Russia’s 2017 bronze medallist Ludmila Vasileva.

There was never more than two points separating the pair until Tan landed three hits in quick succession. Vasileva tried to keep her opponent in sight but the momentum was with the Chinese newcomer and Tan held on for a 15-11 win.

However Vasileva can take encouragement from her silver, and from beating China’s Paralympic champion Jingjing Zhou in the semi-finals to leave her with bronze. A third Chinese fencer, Lanzhu Ao, rounded off the podium.

There was drama in the women’s foil A as some of the weapon’s top athletes, including Hungary’s world champion Zsuszanna Krajnyak and Hong Kong’s Paralympic silver medallist Yu Chui Yee, did not make it past the quarter-finals.

However China’s Paralympic champion Jing Rong managed to maintain her winning form to claim gold.

Fencing against Hungary’s 2017 silver medallist Eva Andreja Hajmasi in the final, Rong executed an exceptional display for a 15-6 win.

Ukraine’s Nataliia Morkvych and China’s Xufeng Zou were the bronze medallists.

China’s Paralympic champion Yanke Feng claimed Great Britain’s Dimitri Coutya’s world title in a tense final in the men’s foil B.

With the scores at 10-5 to Feng, it could have been all over for Coutya but he dug deep. The defending champion landed six hits without reply to take a one-point advantage.

The pair then exchanged the lead but Feng managed to power ahead to a 15-12 victory.

Feng’s Paralympic silver medallist teammate Daoliang Hu secured bronze after being beaten by Coutya in the semi-final. Russia’s Albert Kamalov was also third.

The 2019 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Championships run from 17-23 September. As well as the world titles on offer, the competition is also a crucial stop on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Full results are available here as well as live results during the competition. The Worlds are also being shown on Facebook and YouTube.