Iraq stun China in epic World Championships end
The Iraqi team of Ammar Ali, Zainalabdeen Al-Madhkhoori and Hayder Al-Ogaili delivered the upset of the Terni 2023 Wheelchair Fencing World Championships on Sunday (8 October), stunning Paralympic silver medallists China to take gold in the men’s team epee.
The trio fought incredibly hard and kept their heads during the final against a Chinese team that featured a high calibre of fencers – the bronze medallist from the individual category A, Gang Sun, and Tokyo 2020 podium finisher Jianquan Tian from the category B.
China also came into the final benefitting from the momentum of winning an impressive 10 golds overall.
But Iraq cast their opponent’s record aside on Sunday evening. They were never more than five points behind their opponents and even when it seemed that China were getting away from them, they pulled it back.
First Al-Ogaili scored nine points against Jie Zhang to take the lead which Al-Madhkhoori then extended. But Zhang bought China back to within one point against Rio 2016 silver medallist Ali. Heading into the final match, Iraq had a narrow three-point buffer.
Sun landed seven points to bring China back level in a dramatic conclusion. With the tension rising Al-Ogaili knew what he needed to do, landing a hit on Sun and letting out a huge scream of celebration when the light went green.
After the match, Ali could not believe what had just happened: “We came here to fight. The Chinese are a great team but I told my friend and my coach but we all do our best,” he said. “We fight, we must fight. We must do something. And finally it’s the gold medal. We are the first team to defeat them!
“Now our ranking is No1 in the world. I don’t know what to say. I think our country is very proud of us.”
Paris 2024 hosts France claimed bronze against Ukraine, the day before tickets go on sale for their home Paralympics and as Paralympic Day came to a close in the Place De La Republique.
Luca Platania Parisi, Yohan Peter and Adrien Turkawka overcame Oleksii Zakusylov, Artem Manko and Anton Datsko.
The Chinese women managed to go one step further than their teammates on the closing day in the women’s team foil.
Even facing Italy with a huge crowd of spectators behind them, Haiyan Gu, Rong Xiao and Xufeng Zou kept their cool.
The Paralympic champions led throughout the match but a small glimmer of hope came for the Italians in the second half. Loredana Trigilia pulled out some exceptional fencing against Xiao to bring give Italy a boost.
But with Andreea Mogos unable to capitalise and Beatrice Vio Grandis out injured for the last match, and replaced by relative newcomer Alessia Biagini, China managed to secure the victory.
“We are happy and delighted to win the world championships. Of course this is a team event and the four of us played very well and this is a result of the effort of all my teammates,” Gu said after the match.
“We can see the enthusiasm from the Italian audience but I must say it is the courage from my teammates that is the main force for my heart.”
A closely fought bronze medal match saw Hungary take the final podium place.
Hong Kong’s Yu Chui Yee, Nga Ting Tong, Ka Man Lam and Yuen Ping Chung led for the first half, but Hungary came back.
Eva Andreja Hajmasi landed 10 hits against Lam to hand her team the lead and her and Boglarka Mezo and Zsuzsanna Krajnyak never looked back.
The 2023 Wheelchair Fencing World Championships ran from 3-8 October and featured men’s and women’s epee, foil and sabre category A, B and C individual and team events.