Iraq double-up at wheelchair fencing Asian Championships

26/04/2024

Iraqi wheelchair fencers Ammar Ali and Zainalabdeen Al-Madhkhoori showed Iraq’s growing strength in epee at the 2024 Asian and Oceanian Championships in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, on Friday (26 April) winning both men’s golds on offer.

Whilst Ali is a Paralympic silver medallist from Rio 2016, Al-Madhkhoori won his first Asian title to follow-on from his bronze at the 2023 World Championships in the category A.

He faced Japan’s Naoki Yasu in the final, easing past him 15-6.

“It proves that we are a good team, that we are the best,” Al-Madhkhoori said before reflecting on the upcoming Paralympics where Iraq will get the chance to prove once and for all that they are one of the top teams to beat in the men’s team epee.

“We are feeling really good with this medal and we hope that tomorrow [in the team epee] we will do our best things. We hope to keep it like and for Paris and we promise you we will get some medal in Paris.”

Yasu will however be pleased with his silver having only started competing in the epee internationally in 2023.

Elsewhere on the podium the Thai duo of Waroot Kaveekat and Kitsada Paksee occupied the third spot together.

Ali faced a tough challenge for gold against Thailand’s Visit Kingmanaw in the men’s epee category B.

It was a clash that showed the best of the current and next generation of fencers. Ali is a silver medallist from Rio 2016 and still ranked amongst the top epeeists in the world. Kingmanaw meanwhile is just finding his best fencing in the weapon, landing in his first major final.

The Thai athlete pushed Ali all the way, closing the gap to level the score at 13-13, driven by the energy of the home crowd.

But Ali showed his experience and managed to dig deep to not be thrown by the turn of events. He landed the final two hits successfully to claim his third Asian title from a career that has now spanned two decades.

The rest of the podium places were filled with other athletes from Iraq and Thailand.

Chitiphat Charoenta delivered the hosts another medal with bronze alongside Abdulrahman Alnezri of Iraq.

Thailand’s Saysunee Jana was the victor in the women’s epee category B, winning her second title of the competition to follow on from her gold in the epee earlier in the week.

The 2023 Worlds bronze medallist was the favourite heading into to the final against Hong Kong, China’s Nga Ting Tong and did not disappoint the local support.

Eun Hyo Cho and Yejin Kim became the latest podium finishers from South Korea with bronze.

Their compatriot Sunmi Kim triumphed in the women’s epee category A, completing a successful return to international competition with her first regional title.

Kim competed for the first time in nearly four years at a World Cup at the end of 2023 and on Friday faced Hong Kong, China’s, wheelchair fencing legend Yu Chui Yee for gold.

In what was an incredibly close match, both fencers showcased their skills. Yee is a triple Paralympic champion in the weapon from Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 whilst Kim is targeting future success at the Paralympics beyond 2024.

But Kim was patient, managing to just edge away from Yee to secure a two-point lead that was just enough to claim the victory.

South Korea’s Hyo Kyeong Kwon and Hong Kong, China’s, Fan Pui Shan were the bronze medallists.

The 2024 Wheelchair Fencing Asian Championships continue in Nakhon Ratchasima on Saturday with the men’s epee and women’s foil team events where Iraq, South korea and Thailand will be hopeful of more medal success.

The competition concludes on Sunday (28 April) and as well as the medals on offer, athletes are also chasing qualification points for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

Pictures from all competition days are available here.