Khetsuriani: Sometimes it’s necessary to lose


Until recently the 33-year-old had enjoyed an unbeaten run at an incredible seven World Cups in the sabre.

By Sam Harris | For IWAS

Georgian women’s sabre category B world champion Irma Khetsuriani is playing it cool with just a few days to go to the 2019 International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS) Wheelchair Fencing World Championships in Cheongju, South Korea.

Until recently the 33-year-old had enjoyed an unbeaten run at an incredible seven World Cups in the sabre.

However at the last edition in Warsaw, Poland, in July, Khetsuriani was dethroned by China’s Shumei Tan.

Rather than decrying her loss, Khetsuriani plans to use it to her advantage:

“Winning the seven tournaments is not so easy, without mentioning anything else, at least you get tired psychologically and lose motivation. That’s why sometimes it is necessary to lose, so that you can celebrate new victory with new emotions.” 

Khetsuriani will compete in sabre and foil in Cheongju and understands the impact her success could have for her native country.

Off the piste she also has an important role in Para sport which has included taking part in a Persons With Disabilities Day in 2013. In addition she is an advocate of improving the lives of people with impairments.

The 33-year-old is aware of the impact this could have, saying: “Every activity of people with disabilities is an important and pleasant fact for me. This means what we individuals do in Georgia, is an example for others, showing how not to give up facing barriers and how to be involved in an active lifestyle.” 

The world champion has had a successful warm-up period ahead of Cheongju 2019, also competing in World Cups in the UAE, Italy and Brazil. 

As well as her showings in her favoured sabre, she has produced respectable results in the foil category B which she will also compete in at the Worlds.  

Due to her profile in her home country as their first wheelchair fencer, and her outstanding success, Khetsuriani knows the privilege of representing them: “It is a great honour for me to compete in the name of Georgia. I am always proud for my team and myself to have reached such success. It is such a deep and exciting feeling that drives you to tears. We should always and everywhere represent our small, but the warmest country with dignity.”

Following the Worlds, there will be a final World Cup event in Amsterdam from 14-17 November, also providing qualification points for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. 

The Georgian will be competing at Tokyo 2020 and will be looking to win gold at the sport’s flagship event. 

If she achieves this, there will be an impact in her home country, something Khetsuriani is fully aware of: “Winning at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo would be a big gain of a small country. It would create interest on the world arena and of course determine a certain image for Georgia.”

The 2019 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Championships will feature men’s and women’s foil, epee and sabre in categories A, B and C. As well as the titles on offer, athletes will be able to secure points to improve their position in the rankings which will go towards qualification for Tokyo 2020.

Live results will be available here.