Preview: Wheelchair fencing’s Paralympic year to get underway in Cardiff

10/01/2024

Wheelchair fencers will waste no time in getting the Paralympic year underway as the first World Cup of 2024 is set to open in Cardiff, Great Britain, on 11 January. The competition offers world ranking points that go towards qualification for this summer’s Paralympic Games in Paris. It comes at the start of a season […]

Wheelchair fencers will waste no time in getting the Paralympic year underway as the first World Cup of 2024 is set to open in Cardiff, Great Britain, on 11 January.

The competition offers world ranking points that go towards qualification for this summer’s Paralympic Games in Paris. It comes at the start of a season that will also feature regional Championships in Asia, the Americas and Europe.

As a result the entries are stacked with a high quality field of athletes. For hosts Great Britain there are plenty of fencers to look out for during the live, commentated coverage at wheelchair fencing’s website. Tickets are also available for fans to experience the competition in person.

They include Paralympic, world and European champion Piers Gilliver in the men’s epee category A. Gilliver’s 2023 season was plagued with injury but he was still able to finish as the world No.1 and claim his second consecutive world title in Terni, Italy.

Athletes have also only enjoyed a short break since the last World Cup in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, in December. It was there that Gilliver endured a rare defeat at the hands of China’s Yang Cheng, but still managed to land on the podium in third.

Cheng’s teammate Jianquan Tian took gold in Thailand and will return to the pistes in Cardiff once more.

Gilliver and Tian will be joined by Italian world No.2 Emanuele Lambertini and German world No.3 Maurice Schmidt.

As well as his well achievements in epee, Gilliver is also a strong contender in the sabre. He will try to defend his European title in March in Paris as the city prepares to host the Paralympics. In Terni he left with silver – his third Worlds medal in a row and best result yet.

But Gilliver is not the only British fencer whose skills extend across weapons.

Dimitri Coutya is the world’s top ranked fencer in both the men’s epee and foil category B. At the end of 2022 he secured the European title and barely finished off the podium in both in 2023.

That included a silver in epee and bronze in foil at the Worlds and victory in foil in Thailand.

Coutya’s main opponents include France’s Maxime Valet, China’s Yanke Feng and Brazil’s Jovane Guissone.

Foilist Valet just lost out on the title to Coutya at the last Euros. Feng is a titan of wheelchair fencing having won the last two foil Paralympic and world titles. And Guissone could be a key challenger in the epee as the Tokyo 2020 silver medallist.

Wheelchair fencer Dimitri Coutya shouts in delight

Gemma Collis propelled herself into the limelight last year with a stellar set of performances in the women’s epee and sabre category A.

Her results included her first World Cup gold in epee which she cemented with a further two podium finishes. In sabre she reached the top three twice. Collis ended the season on a high in Nakhon Ratchasima, leaving with a bronze from both weapons.

“In Thailand, I made two podiums and got some big wins against some of the best fencers in the world to get there,” Collis said. “At times I produced my very best fencing and I know what I need to work on as we build up to Paris 2024. I’m super-excited to put in the work ahead of the Cardiff World Cup,” she said.

Poland’s Marta Fidrych and South Korea’s Hyo Kyeong Kwon will try to get in the way of Collis in Cardiff.

Fidrych is a World Championships epee bronze medallist. And Kwon has emerged as a major contender with a trio of World Cup medals in 2023.

In the sabre, Poland’s Kinga Drozdz is the women to beat as the top seed.

Kwon and Collis do battle at the Busan World Cup in 2023

The 2024 Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Cardiff will run from 11-14 January. It will feature individual events in the women’s and men’s sabre, foil and epee category A and B as well as team events in the men’s foil and women’s epee and mixed team sabre.

After Cardiff 2024 fencers will look towards the 2024 European Championships in Paris from 5-9 March, the 2024 Asian Championships in Nakhon Ratchasima from 24-28 April and the 2024 Americas Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica from 8-12 May.