Poland’s Pender aims for another podium finish


The three day IWAS Wheelchair Fencing Grand Prix is headed to Montreal, Canada

Poland’s Dariusz Pender will look to continue an impressive spell of form when he takes to the piste at the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing Grand Prix on Friday (26 April) in Montreal, Canada.

Pender would like to finish in the top three of the men’s category A epee event for the fourth time in a row at a major competition.

The reigning world No. 1 in the discipline followed a gold medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games with victory at the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Eger, Hungary, in December, and a joint third-place finish at the IWAS World Cup in Hong Kong later that same month.

He remains confident there is more success to come.

“I have worked very hard with my coaches and we are very pleased with the results,” he said.

“My relationship with my coaches is very good and we trust each other. I believe I am well prepared.

“Some people say I am getting old but at the same time I am getting more experienced. I feel very good. London 2012 was my fourth Paralympic Games but it won’t be my last.”

If his strong form is to continue Pender knows he will have to be at the top of his game.

“Nowadays there are no weak fencers,” he said. “Everyone is strong and wants to win. You have to keep focused at all times and you can never underestimate you opponent.”

Pender will be one of a host of Paralympic medallists among the field of over 70 wheelchair fencers competing in Canada.

In the first major wheelchair fencing event of 2013, the Claude-Robillard Sports Complex in Montreal will host competition across all three disciplines: epee, foil and sabre.

A men’s team competition will also be held in the epee discipline, and women’s teams will compete with the foil.

The USA and France will have the largest teams competing in the competition, with each country fielding 12 athletes.

In the category B foil event, Anton Datsko of Ukraine is also in formidable form. Ranked world No. 1, Datsko followed a silver medal at London 2012 by taking the foil title at the World Cup event in Eger.

The Ukrainian also won the category B sabre event in Hungary, making him a serious challenger for both disciplines in Montreal.

The women’s events will also feature a number of the sport’s top athletes. Marta Makowska of Poland, a bronze-medal winner at London 2012 in the category B epee competition and current world No. 1 with the foil is aiming to take home a medal from the tournament.

“I am an ambitious person and I want to get the best result every time,” she said ahead of the event. “In Montreal I will do my best to win a medal. It will be not easy but I am optimistic I can do it.”

Another athlete to watch for in the category B foil competition is Italian Beatrice Vio.

At 16 years of age Vio, the only wheelchair fencer in the world with no arms and no legs, joined the Italian squad just last year and has already begun to establish herself in the sport.

She will be looking to build upon a second place finish at the IWAS World Cup in Eger with another strong showing.

In the women’s sabre event, Marta Fidrych of Poland will hope to mount a serious challenge having also come close to a title in Hungary.

She was beaten in Eger by Russia’s Albina Kuramshina who will not compete in Montreal.