Preview: Terni 2023 Wheelchair Fencing World Championships

02/10/2023

From 3 October, wheelchair fencers from all four corners of the world will take to the pistes in Terni, Italy, in the hope of landing on the World Championships podium.

Competition in the men’s and women’s individual and team foil, sabre and epee category A and B and C will be shown live at wheelchair-fencing.org. Viewers will be expertly led through each day of action by Athens 2004 Paralympic champion Cyril More and special guests.

Live results will be available here. Photographs for editorial use will be available each day here.

As well as the world titles on offer, athletes also have an eye on the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. Terni 2023 offers crucial world ranking points which go towards qualification.

Foil

Hosts Italy have several good prospects across the men’s and women’s foil events.

Going for her fourth consecutive world title is the inimitable Bebe Vio Grandis in the women’s category B.

The 26-year-old returned to the piste earlier in 2023 after a career break, winning at all four of the World Cups she competed in. Attracting an enthusiastic crowd wherever she goes, the atmosphere in the PalaTerni when Vio-Grandis competes on Saturday (7 October) will no doubt be electric.

“I am really excited,” Vio said. The World Championship in Terni represents a truly special milestone for me. If we don’t consider the Paralympics in Rio and Tokyo, the two best competitions I keep in my heart and memories are the 2017 World Championships in Rome and the 2018 European Championships in Terni.

“Competing in front of my people will be amazing, and I believe Italian supporters will bring a huge energy and a special boost to me and all the Italian team. I am dreaming especially of the team competitions: we want to reach the 2024 Paralympics in Paris together, as a team, and for this reason, I ask to the Italian audience to support us s in this wonderful adventure that is the World Championship in Italy.”

Foto: Andrea Trifiletti/ Bizzi Team

Another Italian, Andreea Mogos, is going for her first Worlds podium off the back of her most successful season to date in the category A.

Mogos has only finished out of the World Cup top three once in five attempts.

Emanuele Lambertini – a former under 17 and under 23 foil world champion – will go for his first medal in the men’s category A. As the world No.1, Lambertini has grabbed World Cup silverware this season, but will face stiff competition from the likes of Hungary’s Paralympic silver medallist Richard Osvath.

Sabre

Italy’s Rossana Pasquino secured bronze at the last World Championships in 2019 in the women’s sabre category B. Since then Pasquino has gone from strength-to-strength, hoovering up World Cup medals and barely missing the podium. Her efforts were rewarded at the European Championships when she took silver, just missing out on gold to Ukraine’s Paralympic silver medallist Olena Fedota Isaieva who will also compete in Terni.

In the women’s category A, expect fierce competition between the likes of Poland’s Kinga Drozdz, Georgia’s Nina Tibilashvili, France’s Brianna Vide and Hungary’s Eva Andreja Hajmasi.

Drozdz is the European champion and has three World Cup victories under her belt heading into Terni 2023. Tibilashvili is the Paralympic and European silver medallist. Vide has become a major contender in the last two seasons with World Cup medals. Hajmasi has maintained her position amongst the top ranked sabreists alongside her talents in the foil.

Georgia's Nino Tibilashvili celebrates a shot on gold in the women's sabre category A
Credit: Haruo Wanibe

China’s defending world champion Jianquan Tian will enter the fray in the men’s category A alongside the rest of the podium finishers from Cheongju 2019. These include teammate Hi Lao, Great Britain’s Piers Gilliver and current world rankings leader: Italy’s Edorado Giordan. Germany’s Maurice Schmidt is also not to be discounted as the world No.2.

Epee

At the last World Championships in 2019, China claimed the top two positions in the women’s epee category A. Back then Xufeng Zou and Jing Bian were the respective gold and silver medallists. Bian would go on to take Paralympic bronze at Tokyo 2020.

With Bian now retired, Zou remains to challenge for gold for China once again. A stacked field will join her in Terni, including reigning Paralympic champion Amarilla Veres of Hungary.

Veres has stepped onto the podium twice this season in epee, following on from her European title at the end of 2022.

Poland’s Marta Fidrych has also been consistent and is the current world No.1 alongside number two Hyo Kyeong Kwon of South Korea. However, as always, China are still producing top talent. Do not be surprised if newcomer Yuandong Chen – who in her debut season has taken a World Cup gold and silver – throws the established order off.

In the women’s category B, watch out for Thai wheelchair fencing legend Saysunee Jana. Jana is unbeaten in the weapon since 2020 and is still winning medals after more than 20 years competing at the highest levels. Hosts Italy have a big medal hope in Pasquino once again whilst Japan’s Anri Sakurai is enjoying her most successful season yet.

In the men’s category A, Great Britain’s Paralympic, world and European champion Piers Gilliver is competing at only his second competition of the year after sustaining a concussion at the World Cup in Pisa in March. He returned to the piste in July, reminding everyone that he is still a force to be reckoned with by winning gold.

Italy’s Matteo Dei Rossi enters off the back off his fist ever World Cup win from Busan, South Korea, last month and is keen to snatch his maiden Worlds medal as well.

“It [winning and medal] would be the culmination of all the efforts made so far, for myself and for all those who believed in me, from my teachers to the society where I train and certainly not the last for my family that has always supported me from the beginning,” Dei Rossi said.

Matteo Dei Rossi and the other medallists from the men's epee category A pose with their medals at the World Cup in Busan, South Korea, in 2023

Gilliver’s teammate and Paralympic bronze medallist Dimitri Coutya is targeting his second consecutive world title in the category B. However old foes Daoliang Hu of China – the 2019 silver medallist – and Brazil’s Jovane Guissone – Paralympic medallist and Americas champion – will try to get in his way.

Keep an eye also on France’s Yohan Peter. With just under one year to go until his home Paralympics, Peter will be hoping to convert the momentum of three World Cup golds from 2023 into a good performance in Terni.

The men’s category C will feature the latest appearance of Ukraine’s world and European champion Serhii Shavkun. Youngster Leonardo Rigo, 22, is another hotly anticipated medal prospect for Italy as the European bronze medallist.

Teams

The team events will break-up individual competition in Terni, taking place every other day.

Medals will be contested in the men’s and women’s foil, epee and sabre.

The Italian men left with silver from the foil in 2019 whilst China are the world and Paralympic champions. Great Britain and France left Tokyo 2020 with silver and bronze, respectively, and the former are also the European title holders.

The Italian women will be aiming to improve on their foil bronze from 2019 as the Paralympic silver medallists. China dashed their gold medal hopes in Tokyo.

The Chinese women are also the Paralympic champions in the epee whilst Ukraine finished second in Tokyo.

Terni 2023 Wheelchair Fencing World Championships: Daily schedule

Date Event
Tuesday, 3 October Men’s foil category A, B and C

Women’s sabre category A and B

Opening Ceremony

Wednesday, 4 October Men’s team foil

Women’s sabre team

Thursday, 5 October Men’s sabre category A and B

Women’s epee category A and B

Friday, 6 October Men’s team sabre

Women’s team epee

Saturday, 7 October Men’s epee category A, B and C

Women’s foil category A and B

Sunday, 8 October Men’s team epee

Women’s foil team

The full competition schedule can be viewed here.

Athletes’ Council elections

Held every four years, the latest elections for the wheelchair fencing Athletes’ Council will be held during Terni 2023 on 5-6 October.

Athletes can vote in the competition venue by bringing their accreditation to the voting area which will be advertised in advance. Athletes can vote, in-person and via secret ballot, for a maximum of six candidates.

The candidates are:

Moez El Assine (FRA)

Gemma Collis (GBR)

Andrii Demchuk (UKR)

Emanuele Lambertini (ITA)

Paula Lubianca (BRA)

Judith Rodriguez (ESP)

YU Chui Yee (HKG)