Morel ready to take on America’s best wheelchair fencers


At the Americas Championships in Montreal, Canadian Ruth-Sylvie Morel is going for gold.

Canada’s Ruth-Sylvie Morel is expecting no home town advantages, but instead more pressure, when the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing Americas Championships takes place in Montreal between 27-29 April.

Morel, a two-time Paralympian, is optimistic that having competed at both the Sydney 2000 and London 2012 Games, she will stay composed when she takes to the piste.

"That added pressure will never go away," Morel said. "But I now have more confidence and a more positive attitude towards my performance and my objectives. That is a definite plus mentally.

One “added pressure” for the 58-year-old is that she is the only female fencer in the Canadian squad, a situation which has been the case since she began competing 19 years ago. She finds it difficult to explain why.

"I don’t really know why other females are not practicing fencing. Though even in able-bodied fencing, there are fewer female athletes than male athletes.

"It’s a combat sports and it is a bit painful sometimes, but your guess is as good as mine," said Morel, who has the distinction of being the first-ever Canadian to fence in a wheelchair.

One question that Morel has no trouble answering is whether she has a specific objective for the upcoming Americas Championships.

"Yes, to win gold," she said.

According to Morel, preparations for turning this goal into a reality are "coming along fine." However, a minor neck injury has meant she has had to be careful.

Injuries aside, Morel and her teammates aim to win more medals than the US, which boasts the largest team with seven athletes among the 23 competing in the tournament.

In the men’s events, Brazil’s Jovane Silva Guissone is one to watch for. A gold-medal winner with the epee at London 2012, Guissone will look to take advantage of the small field in Montreal.

But, while the Canadian welcome may be friendly for athletes arriving for the championships, Morel warns her rivals that it will be a different story when it comes to the competition.

"I rate our team’s chances very highly," Morel said. "We are determined, have positive attitude, but most of all, we are fighters who never give up."